Thursday, May 19, 2011

Great Sounds and Stories From Jazz Legend Benny Golson At Trumpets Jazz Club In Montclair, NJ

Trumpets Jazz Club & Restaurant
Benny Golson

Vitali Imererli & Benny Golson
Rick Crane
Eliot Zigmund
Matt King, Vitali Imererli, Benny Golson, Eliot Zigmund
Matt King

Marlene VerPlanck & Benny Golson
On Sunday May 15, the "Great" Tenor Sax Legend Benny Golson made his first appearance in the metro area in over 10 years.  He was joined in this performance by the talented violinist, Vitali Imererli. There was an air of anticipation in the room waiting for Mr. Golson to arrive. It's not every day that you can get to see an 82 year old jazz legend perform live.  One of the highlights of the evening for me besides the great music was the warm and personal stories Mr. Golson shared with the audience that included stories about jazz giants he has known and played with in his remarkable career.  Benny told us that he got his first sax at age 12 when his family was living in Philadelphia. He related that he started practicing in the summer with the windows open and his neighbors were not that excited about his sound but he was determined to improve.  Shortly after he started with the tenor sax, he asked to bring a friend of his who played alto sax over to practice together. However, the neighbors were even more unhappy now having two kids practicing every afternoon with the windows open. As they both improved, they knew the neighbors were starting to like the sounds coming from his house because they started to request popular songs.  Benny's alto friend's name was John Coltrane. There were several other wonderful stories Benny shared with us including the personal loss he suffered when his close friend Clifford Brown was killed in an auto accident.  Benny told us how he went on to write  his wonderful jazz song, "I Remember Clifford" as a tribute to his close friend.  This song has been recorded more than 500 times over the years since Benny wrote it. Benny Golson is so much more than a jazz tenor player.  He is multi talented and Internationally famous as a composer, arranger, lyricist and producer. 

Joining Benny at this concert, was the fabulous jazz violinist, Vitali Imererli. Vitali is one of the best jazz violinist I have ever heard. I would put him in the same class of violinist as Stephane Grappelli.  He takes no prisoners when he plays up tempo tunes, but I personally loved his approach to slow tunes and would love to hear him play some of my favorites from the "Great American Songbook'.  

The group backing up these two remarkable musicians consisted of Matt King on Piano, Rick Crane on bass and Eliot Zigmund on drums. As they like to say in the PGA commercials, these guys are really good! I would like to hear more from this trio of great musicians in the future. They provided the perfect background for Benny and Vitali and all had the chance to shine with individual solos that were well received by the audience. 
As a side note, in the audience was the great singer and supporter of the "Great American Songbook", Marlene VerPlanck.   

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