Benny Golson | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Benny Golson 

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Benny Golson has earned a place in jazz history both as the juggernaut tenor soloist in bands led by Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey and as the composer of much-loved classics like "Killer Joe," "Whisper Not," and "I Remember Clifford"--though either would've done the trick alone. In January Golson turns 76, and he's still riding high--this summer he got a shot of free PR when Steven Spielberg gave him a small speaking part, as himself, in The Terminal. (Tom Hanks's character wants Golson's autograph, because his dead father has already collected the signatures of every other musician in Art Kane's 1958 photo "A Great Day in Harlem.") A superb saxist, with a technique shaped by bebop but a large sound reminiscent of swing-era tenor titans Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, Golson's also a savvy self-promoter, and capitalized on his feature-film debut by releasing Terminal 1 (Concord) in June. The album collects new versions of nine tunes he's recorded before--including decades-old compositions of his own, like the rollicking "Blues March" and the sultry lullaby "Park Avenue Petite"--and Golson's full-length solos make clear that his powerful, inviting lyricism remains intact. He'll get all the cushion and bounce he could want at these shows, backed by a trio that's become Chicago's best itinerant rhythm section: pianist Ron Perillo, bassist Dennis Carroll, and drummer George Fludas--whose evocation of such great 50s drummers as Blakey and Philly Joe Jones should put Golson in a youthful frame of mind. Fri 12/17, 9 and 11 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20. See also Saturday and Sunday.

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