163

Benny Golson at Night Town

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
Night Town- Cleveland, OH
January 16, 2003

While certainly in his twilight years, there seems to be no stopping Benny Golson in his quest to deliver music with integrity and intelligence. On a recent tour of one-nighters, Golson took to the stage at Cleveland’s Night Town with a local rhythm section for two sets of jazz within the mainstream tradition. If the evening possessed a minor flaw, it would be that despite his coy sense of humor and penchant for telling some interesting stories, the banter was a bit on the heavy side throughout both sets. At one point Golson nodded towards the audience and commented, “My wife usually tells me my problem is I talk too much.” And truth be told, she’s probably right.

The first set got underway with Clifford Brown’s “Tiny Capers” and despite the blustery and resilient sound that seemed to pour so sweetly from Golson’s horn, the rhythm section sounded just a bit tentative. Bassist Dave Morgan had on hand two of his students, pianist Alton Merrell and drummer Matt Perko and it took them some time to really lock in as a unit. On a whole, Merrell was the more impressive of the two, contributing some fleet-fingered solos on “Whisper Not” and “It Could Happen To You.” By contrast, Perko was somewhat less accomplished and his playing lacked that extra edge or sense of risk taking that might have elevated the group’s inspirational platform.

Golson had a story that he used to introduce every tune and so it went as the first set continued with “Are You Real,” “I Remember Clifford,” and “Beautiful Love.” Highlights included a brilliant melodic variation in the lower register during his solo on “In Walked Bud” and the premier of a more recent composition, “Pierre’s Moment.” The second set turned out to be a tad less varied, with “Along Came Betty” the only original of the lot, but Golson did engage in some lush ballad work on “Thinking of You,” complete with those breathy and fluid runs that have become one of his trademarks.

So in the final analysis, Golson proved to be as sharp as a tack and he undeniably served as a gracious host to the local rhythm section, often beaming during Merrell’s solos. Again, Perko could have stoked things along with a bit more fire and I could have done without a bass solo from Morgan on every tune. Still, it was gratifying to catch a glimpse of a true jazz legend at a time when it seems were losing more and more of our founding fathers every year.


Shop

More Articles

Read Panama Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The Cookers at Nighttown Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Los Lobos at The Barre Opera House" Live Reviews Los Lobos at The Barre Opera House
by Doug Collette
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Galway Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Galway Jazz Festival 2016
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Peacemaker Music & Arts Fest 2016" Live Reviews Peacemaker Music & Arts Fest 2016
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "Jazztopad 2016, Part 1" Live Reviews Jazztopad 2016, Part 1
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!