Internationally famous jazz legend – composer, arranger, lyricist, producer – and tenor saxophonist of world note, Benny Golson will headline the first day of the 9th Annual John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. Joining him will be North Carolina resident and world renowned vocalist Nnenna Freelon.
Golson honed his craft alongside John Coltrane in Philadelphia when the two were in their 20s. He went on to write eight songs that are now standards in the jazz canon including “Killer Joe,” “I Remember Clifford,” Along Came Betty,” “Stablemates,” “Whisper Not,” “Blues March,” “Five Spot After Dark,” and “Are you Real?”
Raised with an impeccable musical pedigree, Golson has played in the bands of world famous Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Earl Bostic and Art Blakey. Few jazz musicians can claim to be true innovators and even fewer can boast of a performing and recording career that literally redefines the term “jazz”.
For more than 55 years, 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 Burdon), Mel Torme, George Shearing, and Dusty Springfield.
His prolific writing includes scores for hit TV series and films. He has recorded over 30 albums and written well over 300 compositions. Golson received the Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1995. It is America’s highest honor that can be achieved by a jazz musician.