Benny Golson

2007 Living Legacy Awardee

Color photo of Benny Golson holding his saxophone.

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Image: Benny Golson. Credit: Oliver Rossberg.

Mr. Golson is the only living jazz artist to have written 8 standards for jazz repertoire, including: Killer Joe, I Remember Clifford, Along Came Betty, Stablemates, Whisper Not, Blues March, Five Spot After Dark, and Are you Real? These standards have found their way into countless recordings internationally over the years and are still being recorded. He has recorded over 30 albums in the United States and Europe under his own name and innumerable ones with other major artists. A prodigious writer, Mr. Golson has written over 300 compositions.

For more than 50 years, Mr. Golson has enjoyed an illustrious, musical career in which he has not only made scores of recordings but has also composed and arranged music for: Count Basie, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Mama Cass Elliott, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Shirley Horn, David Jones and the Monkees, Quincy Jones, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae, Anita O’Day, Itzhak Perlman, Oscar Peterson, Lou Rawls, Mickey Rooney, Diana Ross, The Animals (Eric Burden), Mel Torme, George Shearing, and Dusty Springfield.

His has scored numerous TV series including: M*A*S*H, Mannix, Mission Impossible, Mod SquadRoom 222, Run for Your Life, The Partridge Family, and The Bill Cosby Show.

Mr. Golson has not only blazed a trail in the world of jazz but is also passionate about teaching jazz to young and old alike. He has lectured at the Lincoln Center through a special series created by Wynton Marsalis and to doctoral candidates at New York University as well as the faculty at National University at San Diego.

Honored with doctorates from William Paterson College, Wayne, NJ and Berklee School of Music, Boston, MA, Mr. Golson has conducted workshops and clinics at a multitude of colleges and universities across the United States.

Some of Mr. Golson’s commissions include his first symphony, “Two Faces,” which premiered at Lincoln Center, New York and was commissioned by Reader’s Digest; “A Three Piano Composition” for the Ravinia Festival of Chicago; and a piece celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Juilliard School of Music.

Mr. Golson’s musical odyssey has taken him around the world. In 1987, The U.S. Department of State sent him on a cultural tour of Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, and Singapore. Later, Philip Morris International sent him on an assignment to Bangkok, Thailand to write music for the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra. A live performer who consistently knocks audiences off their feet, Mr. Golson has given hundreds of performances in the United States, Europe, South America, Far East and Japan.

Mr. Golson is a Grammy Nominee for Best Instrumental for his performance of “Body and Soul” from his CD “Tenor Legacy.”  In 1996, he received an American Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional recognition includes a BMI Music Award for his Cosby Show score, and a Certificate of Commendation from the City of Los Angeles.

Mr. Golson is currently working on a major college textbook and his autobiography.

*Bio from Award presentation.