A Pleasant Surprise. I had been anticipating the release of Shirley Horn's tribute to Miles Davis, I Remember Miles, when I was searching a popular internet music source. I searched on the title and up popped this hitherto unknown to this writer tribute from tenorist Benny Golson. As the Horn disc had not yet been released, I ordered this one. You know, one should have expected this from the composer of "I Remember Clifford."
The History Channel. Had Eric Clapton recorded no other music than Layla, he would have been no less revered. The same is true for Benny Golson. If he had not performed on any recording after Moanin' or if he had never written another song after "Along Came Betty" or "Blues March," his place in jazz would still be assured. On this recording, Golson is joined by first generation Hard Boppers Curtis Fuller on trombone and Ray Drummond on bass and second generation Hard Boppers Eddie Henderson on trumpet, Mulgrew Miller on piano, and Tony Reedus on drums.
Four. Released in 1996, Golson's I Remember Miles covers five of the Miles Davis book standards and four Golson originals, the latter being more interesting than the former. Of the standards, "Four" is the most fun. This is one song that has somehow always existed in my bubbling subconscious and it provides some fine ensemble playing. "'Round Midnight" boasts the Gil Evans arrangement Davis made famous. But listening to it makes me want to pull out 'Round About Midnight just to hear that Coltrane solo one more time (in the same way that first hearing the Black Crowes made me pull out Sticky Fingers ).
Along Came Shirley. This disc on the whole is a sleeper. It is well arranged and performed, but with no fire. It fairly pales when listened to during the same afternoon with Shirley Horn's I Remember Miles (also reviewed this month). While Golson and company offer a decent record, I recommend the same expenditure for the Shirley Horn Disc if the listener is trying to choose between the two.
Track Listing: Four, Heartstrings, 'Round Midnight, Bye Bye Blackbird, One Day, Forever, Autumn Leaves, So What, Uptown Afterburn.
Personnel: Benny Golson (tenor saxophone); Eddie Henderson (trumpet); Curtis Fuller (trombone); Mulgrew Miller (piano); Ray Drummond (bass); Tony Reedus (drums).