The Other Side of BENNY GOLSON
Benny Golson (ts) Curtis Fuller (tb) Barry Harris (p) Jymie Merritt (b) Philly Joe Jones (drs)
NYC; November 12, 1958
1. Strut Time (6:00) (Benny Golson)
2. Jubilation (6:17) (Junior Mance)
3. Symptoms (5:59) (Curtis Fuller)
1. Are You Real? (5:35) (Benny Golson)
2. Cry A Blue Tear (5:17) Benny Golson)
3. This Night (8:12) (Richard Evans)
BENNY GOLSON has, in what is really a very short period of time, made long strides towards what looks to be a position of real and lasting importance in modern jazz. What is most startling about his progress is not merely rapidity (as with so many men who might seem to have come suddenly into prominence, he has behind him much sound apprenticeship served in good company), but solidity. Golson can be guaranteed not to be a short-lived meteor: his reputation is founded on a steadily growing, firmly based appreciation of his talents by extremely demanding fellow-musicians (Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Chico Hamilton are some who quickly come to mind as having been users of Golson scores) and by the soundest and most skeptical of critics (Ralph Gleason and Nat Hentoff among them).
Nevertheless, there has been one large element of lopsidedness in Golson's progress to date. Undoubtedly because of the striking impact of his fresh, strong, lyrical and imaginative compositions (Whisper Not, Stablemates, I Remember Clifford, Fair Weather and many others) and arrangements, there has been less than the proper amount of attention paid to the fact that Benny is equally the possessor of the same rare qualities as a tenor man.
In truth, more than a little of this concentration on Golson's paper work rather than his reed work can be blamed on what was until, roughly, mid-1958, a certain diffidence on his own part. Having worked primarily in big bands (most notably a year and a half with Gillespie's orchestra) that provided only minimal room for on-the-job 'blowing,' he seemed to feel less sure of himself as a soloist than as a writer. But there was, even during that period with Dizzy, a groundswell of dissent from musicians who were Golson fans. For example, his close friend, the late Ernie Henry, who was the first to call Golson to Riverside's attention, did so by stressing his playing abilities. and for almost as long as we have known Benny, we have been engaged in a campaign to get him to agree to a blowing date - to an album devoted, in short, to The Other Side of Benny Golson.
Early in '58, fate took a hand. Fate, on this occasion, was disguised as Art Blakey. Shortly after Dizzy's big band was dissolved, the drummer asked Benny to join his Jazz Messengers. this was surely an extreme change, a combining of apparently drastically different forces. But the fact is that both men would seem to have benefited greatly from the association. Golson brought his firm sense of musical and persona discipline and his writing skills to bear on Art's quintet, making (as Blakey was first and foremost to emphasize) a decided change in that group. On the other hand, working with the volatile and exuberant Art, playing his driving tempos, and indeed the whole experience of functioning in a two-horns-and-rhythm context, did (as Golson was quick to emphasize) a fascinating job of bringing out much that had been semi-latent in the tenor man's blowing skills.
Specifically, there came to the fore considerably more toughness, verve and stamina in Golson's playing than had ever before been consistently apparent. I say "obviously" because, as this album demonstrates, we were finally able to gain Benny's consent to the presentation of that other side of his work. It would surely seem to have been well worth insisting on.
It is also obvious that there is no point in overdoing a good thing - not to the exclusion of another equally good thing. And so there are three Golson compositions here and also (although he almost apologized for it!) there are a few scored touches, like the uses of harmony in the ensemble trombone part on Curtis Fuller's Symptoms. But the emphasis was firmly on the solo choruses. (And, listening to the playback of his three choruses on the fast-moving Strut Time, Benny was moved to agree that was probably more solo playing than he'd get in a full night's - or maybe a week's - work in the big Gillespie band.)
The sidemen for the occasion were selected carefully and for a variety of reasons. Detroit trombonist, was "someone I've wanted to work with for quite some time now, but have just never had the chance to." PHILLY JOE JONES, best known for his work with Miles Davis, and the drummer most frequently used on Riverside sessions, has been a friend since both were very young together in Philadelphia (Benny's first real job was with a Bull Moose Jackson band that included Philly, and they also worked together in the 1953 band led by Tadd Dameron, the arranger Golson credits with influencing him first and most strongly.) Friendship aside, Benny has long admired Joe's great ability to make almost any sort of group swing. JYMIE MERRITT is a bassist, also from Philadelphia, who has kept himself out of the main jazz scene in favor of steady work until recently; he had joined the Jazz Messengers just a short time before this session and had impressed Benny mightily with his big, full sound. BARRY HARRIS, currently working in his native Detroit, has also been high on Golson's personal list for a long time, and he persuaded Riverside to bring Barry to New York for the album, for one of the all-too-rare unveilings on records of Harris' bright, percussive piano style. (The tree-Philadelphians, two-Detroiters lineup for a "New York" jazz date, incidentally, is a pretty good measure of the way the geographical winds are blowing in Eastern jazz these days. And to complete the geography lesson, note that Chicago-based Richard Evans and Chicago-bred Junior Mance contributed respectively, the warmly relaxed This Night and the gospel-tinged Jubilation.)
Golson has contributed arrangements to Riverside to Riverside albums by Abbey Lincoln (RLP 12-277), Chet Baker (RLP 12-281), and
Blue Mitchell (RLP 12-273). His own previous albums for this label was -
The Modern Touch: BENNY GOLSON Sextet; with J. J. Johnson, Kenny Dorham, Max Roach, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers (RLP 12-256)
Golson can also be heard on –
It’s Magic: ABBEY LINCOLN; with Kenny Dorham, Art Farmer, Curtis Fuller, Wynton Kelly (RLP 12-277)
Last Chorus: ERNIE HENRY; with Thelonious Monk, Lee Morgan (RLP 12-266)
Philly Joe Jones has served on numerous Riverside albums, including the Mitchell, Lincoln and Henry LPs noted above.
The first album under his own leadership is – Blues for Dracula: PHILLY JOE JONES Sextet; with
Nat Adderley, Johnny Griffin (RLP 12-282)
Curtis Fuller appears on –
Big Six: BLUE MITCHELL Sextet; with Johnny Griffin, Wynton Kelly (RLP 12-273)
This Is the Moment: KENNY DORHAM Plays & Sings (RLP 12-275)
Other outstanding Riverside jazz includes –
Misterioso: THELONIOUS MONK Quartet (RLP 12-279)
Mulligan Meets Monk: THELINOUS MONK and GERRY MULLIGAN (RLP 12-247)
Things Are Getting Better: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY with Milt Jackson (RLP 12-286)
Portrait of Cannonball: JULIAN ADDERLEY Quintet (RLP 12-269)
Deeds, Not Words: MAX ROACH Quintet (RLP 12-280)
CHET BAKER in New York (RLP 12-281)
It Could Happen to You: CHET BAKER Sings (RLP 12-278)
Freedom Suite: SONNY ROLLINS (RLP 12-258)
Way Out: JOHNNY GRIFFIN Quartet (RLP 12-274)
JOHNNY GRIFFIN Sextet; with Pepper Adams, Donald Byrd (RLP 12-264)
In Orbit: CLARK TERRY Quartet featuring Thelonious Monk (RLP 12-271)
Branching Out: NAT ADDERLEY Quintet (RLP 12-285)
A HIGH FIDELITY Recording (Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve)
Produced, and notes written by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover produced and designed by PAUL BACON-KEN BRAREN-HARRIS LEWINE
Engineer: TOM NOLA (Nola Studios)
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
553 West 51st Street New York 19, N.Y.