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Benny Golson Biography

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Benny Golson (born January 25, 1929) is an American jazz tenor saxophonist, composer, and arranger.

While in high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Golson played with several other promising young musicians, including John Coltrane, Red Garland, Jimmy Heath, Percy Heath, Philly Joe Jones, and Red Rodney. After graduating from Howard University Golson joined Bull Moose Jackson's rhythm and blues band; Tadd Dameron, whom Golson came to consider the most important influence on his writing, was Jackson's pianist at the time.

From 1953 to 1959 Golson played with Dameron's band and then with the bands of Lionel Hampton, Johnny Hodges, Earl Bostic, Dizzy Gillespie, and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

Golson was working with the Lionel Hampton band at the Apollo Theater in Harlem in 1956 when he learned that Clifford Brown, a noted and well-liked jazz trumpeter who had done a stint with him in Hampton's band, had died in a car accident. Golson was so moved by the event that he composed the threnody "I Remember Clifford", as a tribute to a fellow musician and friend.

Golson has composed several other jazz standards such as "Stable Mates," "Killer Joe," "Whisper Not," and "Along Came Betty."

From 1959 to 1962 Golson co-led the Jazztet with Art Farmer. Golson then left jazz to concentrate on studio and orchestral work for 12 years. During this time he composed music for such television shows as Ironsides, Room 222, M*A*S*H, and The Six Million Dollar Man. During the mid-1970s Golson returned to jazz playing and recording. In 1983 he re-organized the Jazztet.

In 1995 Golson received the NEA Jazz Masters Award of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Golson made a cameo appearance in the 2004 movie, The Terminal, related to his appearance in the A Great Day in Harlem photo. As of 2005, he tours regularly.
 
 
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