Benny Golson, born on January 25, 1929, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an acclaimed American jazz saxophonist, composer, and arranger. He is celebrated for his tenor saxophone playing and his contributions to the jazz repertoire, including several enduring jazz standards such as “I Remember Clifford,” “Killer Joe,” “Whisper Not,” “Stablemates,” and “Along Came Betty.”
Golson’s passion for music began at an early age. He attended Howard University and later studied with the renowned Philadelphia composer and arranger, Dennis Sandole. Throughout his career, Golson has played with some of the most prominent jazz musicians, including Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Johnny Hodges, Art Blakey, and the Jazz Messengers.
In the late 1950s, Golson co-founded the Jazztet, a sextet featuring Art Farmer, with whom he recorded several albums. The group disbanded in 1962, but they re-formed in the 1980s, continuing to record and perform together until Farmer’s death in 1999. Golson’s skill as a composer and arranger led him to work in television and film, scoring music for various projects, including the television series “MAS*H” and the film “The Terminal.”
Benny Golson has been honored with numerous awards throughout his illustrious career. In 1995, he received the NEA Jazz Masters Award, which is the highest honor in jazz given by the United States government. In addition to this prestigious recognition, Golson has received honorary doctorate degrees from several institutions, including the Berklee College of Music and the Juilliard School.
Today, Benny Golson continues to perform and record, sharing his passion for jazz with audiences around the world. His influence as a saxophonist, composer, and arranger has left an indelible mark on the history of jazz, and his contributions to the genre will be remembered for generations to come.
Page last updated 3/19/2023.