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Benny Golson: From Sax to Film and Television

Benny Golson, an iconic figure in the jazz world, is not only renowned for his exceptional skills as a saxophonist and composer but also for his significant contributions to the film and television industry. Born in Philadelphia, PA, on January 25, 1929, Golson’s musical journey has been nothing short of extraordinary, leading him to play in the bands of Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Earl Bostic, and Art Blakey.

In addition to his well-known jazz standards like “Killer Joe,” “I Remember Clifford,” and “Stablemates,” Golson has made a lasting impact in the realms of film and television scoring. His prolific writing includes scores for hit TV series such as “M*A*S*H,” “Mannix,” “Mission Impossible,” “Mod Squad,” “Room 222,” “The Partridge Family,” “The Academy Awards,” and “The Karen Valentine Show.” He also created and scored for a French film ‘Des Femmes Disparaissent” in Paris. His work in television extended to specials for major networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and international broadcasts for BBC in London and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Golson’s expertise was not limited to television; he also composed music for national radio and television spots for major advertising agencies. These commercials included brands such as Borateem, Canada Dry, Carnation, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Clorox, Dodge, General Telephone, Gillette, Heinz Foods, Jack in The Box, Liquid Plum’r, MacDonald’s, Mattel Toys, Monsanto, Nissan, Ohrbachs, Ore-Ida Frozen Potatoes, Parliament Cigarettes, Pepsi Cola, Texaco, and many more.

Golson’s remarkable career also includes a cameo role in the 2004 movie “The Terminal,” directed by Steven Spielberg. In the film, the main character, Viktor Navorski (played by Tom Hanks), travels to the US to obtain Golson’s signature, highlighting Golson’s significance in the jazz world.

Benny Golson continues to embody the spirit of jazz and its enduring legacy in both music and popular culture. His work in the film and television industry is a testament to his versatility and his ability to transcend genres, making him a true legend in the world of music​

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