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Benny Golson: One Day Forever

One Day Forever is a tour de force for Benny Golson. This is an elaborate sampler of his talents as composer-arranger, lyricist and tenor saxophonist. Arkadia’s founder, Bob Karcy, would add one more title: “architect of jazz.” Forever’s 45-year cross-section of songs range from a tune Golson wrote when he was with Earl Bostic’s R&B combo in the mid-’50s, “Out of the Past,” to the premiere of a concert piece for piano completed in 1999: “On Gossamer Wings” is a 10-and-a-half minute work that could be assimilated into an all-Chopin program and hold its own with any of that master’s etudes or nocturnes. Classical pianist Lara Downes performs the piece here.

Between those extremes is a reunion of the Jazztet front line (trumpeter Art Farmer, trombonist Curtis Fuller and Golson) and two songs featuring Shirley Horn backed by 12 celli (shades of Villa Lobos!), two French horns, oboe and flute plus a rhythm section that includes pianist Mulgrew Miller and bassist Ron Carter. We’re talking major production here.

Naturally, highlights abound, some trivial, some meaningful: Golson’s timbre is ideal for the soulful voice of Shirley Horn; that simple, basic Charleston beat that introduces “Killer Joe” has become one of jazzdom’s most recognizable vamps; Geoff Keezer is a monster pianist who deserves more exposure; and there’s a bittersweet joy in hearing the late Art Farmer.

So many facets of Benny Golson are on display here; I hope Arkadia promotes the CD and Golson’s Strayhornlike strengths loudly and clearly.

Originally Published