JAZZ REVIEW : Satisfying Set by Golson & Co.


Who should have the most fun at a jazz performance: the musicians or the audience?

Ideally, it should be mutual and that’s the way it was Tuesday night at the Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood, where tenor saxophonist Benny Golson led a hard-swinging quartet of post-boppers through a delightful entertaining--and musically satisfying--first set.

When Golson wasn’t regaling the small gathering with uproarious stories of those Columbus Avenue jam sessions he attended as a youngster in Philadelphia, he was busy trading 8s with drummer Roy McCurdy, barbs with “the indefatigable” bassist Bob Magnusson (“Hey, I’ve lost weight”) and musical quotes with pianist Mike Wofford (the pianist held a slight lead by set’s end).

So the set wasn’t cool in the turn-your-back-on-the-audience sense; it was, however, a great hour-and-a-half of highly listenable, very accessible jazz.


An accomplished composer, Golson’s first two offerings were from his own book. “Crouch,” written with Stanley Crouch, was a hard-driving piece that showcased the leader’s full-bodied tenor sound against a raucously swinging backdrop. “Jam the Avenue,” taken at a breakneck tempo, had Golson playing energetically (hardly taking a breath between choruses) as Wofford’s hands chased each other up and down the length of the keyboard.

Things slowed down considerably with the group’s gentle reading of “Love Is the Sweetest Thing,” which included a sensationally musical bass solo from Magnusson. Golson’s tenor flourishes dressed the melody nicely, though he hit his improvisational stride with an inspired rendition of “Sophisticated Lady.”