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Tom Scott Remembers Bassist Max Bennett

The composer and saxophonist pays tribute to his partner in the L.A. Express (5/24/28 – 9/14/18)

Max Bennett
Max Bennett at Hollywood’s Radio Recorders studio in the 1960s (photo: courtesy of Kate Varley)

It’s a given nowadays: When you hire a bass player, they ask, “Do you want upright or electric?” It’s understood that they have to play both. That was not the case when Max Bennett started. There was an abrupt transition to electric bass in popular music during the ’60s, and Bennett was one of the first people to make that transition successfully—in other words, Bennett could play the hell out of the instrument. Bennett and Carol Kaye were the bassists on my first solo recording for Impulse! That’s when I first met Bennett. I found out later that he’d been an upright player with Stan Kenton and Peggy Lee and all these people, but he had become a king of the electric bass in L.A.

After that I would see him at sessions with John Guerin all the time. I called them “the Maxnjohn” because they were joined at the hip in many aspects. They both had matching Jensen sports cars and they both prided themselves on being smartly dressed in all the hip fashions of the day. We kidded them about it, but they didn’t care. They both could back it up with great, great playing—and they were making money!

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