Benny Golson is back, this time with a salute to 10 legends of the tenor saxophone (including Benny himself, of course). It's such a daunting task that Golson has called for help, sharing the spotlight with tenors Branford Marsalis (on "Body and Soul," dedicated to Coleman Hawkins), Harold Ashby (on five tracks) and James Carter (on four), both of whom take part in a three-tenor conclave with Golson on the busy opener, Lester Young's "Lester Leaps In." Other celebrated tenor maestros who secure Golson's endorsement are Sonny Rollins ("St. Thomas"), Dexter Gordon ("Cry Me a River"), Trane ("My Favorite Things"), Stan Getz ("The Girl from Ipanema"), Zoot Sims ("My Old Flame"), Ben Webster ("Lover Come Back to Me") and Don Byas (Golson's lovely ballad, "In Memory Of"). Benny is represented by his memorable composition, "Whisper Not." I've long held Golson in high regard, both as a player and writer; my admiration for the other horns on Tenor Legacy is, shall we say, somewhat less intense (let's lay our biases right on the table). While I'm aware that Carter is a rising star with a considerable following, he comes from the "screech/honk" school that usually turns me off (he's marginally less annoying at slower tempos, and at his best here on "Whisper Not"). Ashby, the elder statesman among Golson's guests, employs the sweeping legato and broad vibrato of an earlier era ("Lover Come Back" sees him in sharpest form), while Marsalis, who can blow hot or cold, is definitely cookin' alongside Golson on "Body and Soul." One can always count on pianist Keezer to have something fresh and appealing to say, and he's never at a loss for words here. With Burno and Farnsworth, he comprises a rhythm section that leaves nothing to chance. This is a colorful session with perceptive choices of melody and tempo. One's enjoyment may rest in part on the extent to which he fancies the horn section.
Lester Leaps In; Body and Soul; St. Thomas; Cry Me a River; My Favorite Things; Whisper Not; The Girl from Ipanema; My Old Flame; Lover Come Back to Me; In Memory of (61:50).
Benny Golson, Branford Marsalis, James Carter, Harold Ashby, tenor saxophone; Geoff Keezer, piano; Dwayne Burno, bass; Joe Farnsworth, drums.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.