Benny Golson (ts, arr), Art Farmer, Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan (tp), Jimmy Cleveland, J.J. Johnson, Curtis Fuller (tb), Julius Watkins (Frh), Gigi Gryce (as), Sahib Shihab (bs), Wynton Kelly, Barry Harris, Ray Bryant (p), Paul Chambers, Jymie Merritt, Percy Heath (b), Charles Persip, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones (d)
Reference: FSRCD 540
Bar code: 8427328605403
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Benny Golson was just 17 when he fell under the spell of composer/arranger Tadd Damerons writing. Tadds music really ignited the spark for me, he said. After hearing things like Our Delight and Lady Bird, I had more of a definite goal. I wanted to do more than play tenor sax. I wanted to write.
By 28 he was playing and writing for the Dizzy Gillespie band. Most arrangers in those days had an adequate facility on one instrument or another, but those who excelled as writers and instrumentalists were very few. Benny was one of them. Since then, his skills as a writer have been so acclaimed that sometimes critics forget that he was also a very swinging tenor man, as these 1957-1958 recordings, his first as a leader, demonstrate: a fusion of thinking and blowing that represents modern jazz at its skillful, provocative, imaginative best.
—New York Scene
"Benny Golson's debut as a leader was recorded at a time when he was better known as a composer than a tenor saxophonist. This album [...] features Golson in a quintet with fellow future Jazztet co-leader Art Farmer on trumpet, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Charlie Persip on five selections, and with the same group plus four horns on three other songs. The set is most significant for including an early version of Golson's "Whisper Not" (which soon became a jazz standard) along with "Step Lightly," as well as for the leader's inventive and swinging arrangements; plus, there are some excellent solos from Golson and Farmer. Overall, this underrated gem served as a strong start to Benny Golson's influential solo career."
—The Modern Touch
"Benny Golson's second album as a leader is a solid hard bop date featuring the tenorman in a quintet with trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Max Roach. The all-star group performs three Golson originals (none of which really caught on), a pair of Gigi Gryce tunes (best known is "Hymn to the Orient") and the standard "Namely You." Excellent playing on an above-average set that defines the modern mainstream of 1957 jazz."
—The Other Side of Benny Golson
"Tenor-saxophonist Benny Golson's third recording as a leader was significant in two ways. It was his first opportunity to work with trombonist Curtis Fuller (the two would be members of The Jazztet by 1960) and it was one of his first chances to really stretch out on record as a soloist; up to this point Golson was possibly better known as a composer. Three of the six originals on this Riverside date are Golson's ("Are You Real" was the closest one to catching on) but the emphasis is on the solos of the leader, Fuller and pianist Barry Harris; bassist Jymie Merritt and drummer Philly Joe Jones are excellent in support."
—And the Philadelphians
"This set does have a six-song session with the all-Philadelphia crew of tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, trumpeter Lee Morgan, pianist Ray Bryant, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Philly Joe Jones. [...] The music is quite enjoyable. Golson, Morgan and Bryant take excellent solos on three Golson tunes and one apiece by Bryant, John Lewis ("Afternoon In Paris") and Gigi Gryce. [...] Throughout, Golson is at the peak of his playing ability, and he often emerges as the solo star. Recommended for hard bop collectors."
All four reviews by Scott Yanow -All Music Guide