Tenor saxophonist Benny Golson is 88. He's a legend, and he's performed with the legends as well, having played with John Coltrane, Red Garland, Philly Joe Jones and other jazz greats from Philadelphia while he was still in high school.
Golson played with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in the late '50s. Golson wrote "Blues March," which Blakey's band recorded. Golson also composed "I Remember Clifford," another jazz standard; the song is a tribute to trumpet player Clifford Brown, who died in a car wreck in 1956. The saxophonist also played in bands with Curtis Fuller and Art Farmer. In addition to his work as a composer, bandleader and sideman, Golson, who started playing classical piano at age 9, also did arrangements for artists like Kenny Burrell, Roland Kirk and others.
As a player, Golson has been a continuation of that full-bodied sax sound advanced by Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Lester Gordon. Golson first saw Charlie Parker with has buddy Coltrane, and the two hung out with Bird after the gig, hoping to pick up some secrets. Golson is living and breathing jazz history.
See Benny Golson at The Side Door, 85 Lyme St., Old Lyme, on Friday, Nov. 3, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $50. 860-434-0886 or thesidedoorjazz.com.