Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

539

Benny Golson and Curtis Fuller at the Kennedy Center

By

Sign in to view read count
Golson continued for only a few minutes and stopped as if in mid-thought, perhaps seeking to draw a parallel to Clifford Brown
Benny Golson and Curtis Fuller
Jazz in Our Time Series
The Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage
Washington D. C.
March 7, 2007

The Washington, DC metropolitan area is a curious town for the avid jazz listener. Only one club attracts nationally known musicians on a nightly basis, and it has seemingly altered its booking policy to focus on more commercially viable acts that do not attract the "purist." As a result, some of the most attractive venues are outside of the traditional listening context. For example, the Smithsonian's IMAX Jazz Café offers music each Friday evening for a nominal cover charge. However, the audience is an odd collection of office workers seeking to unwind with a few drinks, groups of children, tourists who mistakenly wander in, and young couples on an awkward early date. The jazz listeners gather in front of the stage, hoping to hear glimpses of brilliance over the incessant chatter. Nevertheless, the intrepid booking staff attract many wonderful artists, and for $10 and no minimum one can enjoy Mundell Lowe, Bucky Pizzarelli, Jimmy Bruno, Houston Person or Scott Hamilton in a four hour stretch.

The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage is another odd venue, offering free performances each night at 6:00 p.m. in the Grand Foyer, where local performers and national acts perform classical, bluegrass, rock or jazz. Those on their way to other performances, tourists, and the merely curious usually comprise the audience, though the space is also utilized in conjunction with ongoing festivals attracting a more homogeneous crowd. The Kennedy Center's Jazz in Our Time, for example, was an 8-day event earlier this month, honoring and showcasing mainstream jazz artists.

As part of that series honoring jazz greats of the past, last Wednesday evening the Millennium Stage featured an event billed as Benny Golson and Curtis Fuller. Rarely does one have an opportunity to hear these legends together in Washington, if at all, so I left work early, making the arduous journey from one clogged highway to another halted interstate and arriving at the show with less than two minutes to spare. One should always expect Golson to act as the amiable raconteur, and he fulfilled such expectations wonderfully; his effervescence and exuberance were palpable, inviting each listener to share—if only for an hour—his exceptional joy of living.

Golson started with "Whisper Not," his 1956 composition which, like many other examples of his work, has entered the jazz pantheon. His tenor tone was round and very "present," slowing my pulse immediately with the recognition of a much loved instrumental voice. His low blasts served as a prelude to subsequently skipping arpeggios, leading to a floating melodic line. Trombonist Curtis Fuller contributed his characteristic incisive articulations which, if I had been closer to the stage, would surely have changed the part in my hair. Pianist Mike LeDonne, making a very rare Washington appearance, displayed his best McCoy Tyner sound, with right handed runs and left-handed block chords propelling the group. Drummer Carl Allen, though in the background, literally beamed, making it apparent he was enjoying himself.

Golson introduced the second composition with a story, explaining that in 1950 he "wanted to leave Philadelphia so bad that he joined "Bull Moose Jackson and his Buffalo Bearcats. His band mates included "Philly Joe Jones, Tad Dameron, Johnny Coles, and Jymie Merritt. When playing the clubs, he noticed that there was inevitably a well-manicured man, in an El Dorado, with a woman on each arm and sitting at the bar. He was often referred to as "Killer by his colleagues. "This man was a pimp," Golson explained, "and I wrote this tune about him. Of course, Golson immediately began with his classic composition "Killer Joe." The formula was familiar: Golson's brief solo was followed by Fuller's deft command of the language and Mike LeDonne's tasteful contribution. The listener shouldn't be seeking the exploration of new terrain in this context and by musicians who have proven themselves many times over; it was an instance of the familiar exerting a soothing effect, and the ease of the performers enveloped the audience.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Apr24Wed
Benny Golson
Crooners Lounge And Supper Club
Minneapolis, MN
$35
Apr25Thu
Benny Golson
Crooners Lounge And Supper Club
Minneapolis, MN
$35

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Live Reviews
Kevin Bales With Chuck Redd At The Jazz Corner
By Martin McFie
January 21, 2019
Live Reviews
Darrell Grant Black Art @ 25 Quartet at Birdland Theater
By Mike Jurkovic
January 18, 2019
Live Reviews
Odean Pope Quartet at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
By Victor L. Schermer
January 15, 2019
Live Reviews
Denise Donatelli at Mezzrow
By Nicholas F. Mondello
January 10, 2019
Live Reviews
The Los Cabos Jazz Experience 2018
By Wendy Ross
January 5, 2019