Benny Golson's Terminal 1 is a commemorative album to Steven Spielberg's latest film, The Terminal, in which Golson plays himself: a legendary jazz saxophonist from whom Tom Hanks' character is trying to get an autograph.
On Terminal 1, 75-year-old hard-bopper Golson looks and plays just as fresh as he did in his younger days with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, where the saxophonist wrote one of the Messenger's most popular tunes, "Blues March." Golson's youthful and vigorous playing on Terminal 1 is aided by bassist Buster Williams and trumpeter Eddie Henderson, who got their big break with Herbie Hancock during the late '60s in the Mwandishi band.
Terminal 1 starts with its title track, which begins with a drum solo by Carl Allen that symbolizes the traffic of people in an airport. Like an airport crowd, the melody is always changing and constantly moving throughout "Terminal 1." The mood of the song moves from contemplative then into straight-ahead 4/4 time. Pianist Mike LeDonne solos lightly, but with strength, and Williams lets loose with a bass solo that cuts to the bone.
"Killer Joe," a tune from the film Terminal, opens up with LeDonne playing block chords in the style of Red Garland. The theme is then stated by the horns in unison, after which Henderson breaks into a beautiful muted trumpet solo, sounding like Miles Davis. "Caribbean Drifting" is a great example of Golson's warm, robust tone with a hint of Latin flavor. His deep, yet cheerful soloing on "Caribbean Drifting" invokes images of Afro-Cuban bop contemporaries like Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie.
"Blues March," originally recorded in '58 with Art Blakey, gets a nice makeover with a drum intro and solo that pay homage to Blakey with a sense of modernity. Golson sounds just as well as he did in the Jazz Messengers, probably even more seasoned.
Terminal 1 contains the classic standard "Sweet Georgia Brown" and also features a cover of Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way." The '50s hard bop sounds of New York are still alive today in Benny Golson's playing.
Personnel: Benny Golson: tenor saxophone; Eddie Henderson: trumpet and flugelhorn; Mike LeDonne: piano; Buster Williams: bass; Carl Allen: drums.