Jazz has long since left the back rooms and alleys of our communities. It has taken the concert stage and more. Jazz now has a place in the communities. Like-minded people tend to gather together. When you hear or play jazz and direct your energies toward the music, you don’t think of war and crime and all those things that debilitate hearts.

It’s a refreshing change to blog about great artists with a lot of creative mileage on the dashboard and an engine that’s still kickin’. That would be tenor saxophonist and composer Benny Golson who turns 80 January 25th. I believe Benny is on the Freddie Hubbard clip I posted earlier. He recorded “Moanin” with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in the 1950s.

A special birthday tribute is on the calendar at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 7:30 PM. [There will be a free afternoon concert on the Millennium Stage with the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Jazz Orchestra.] On the bill for the evening event is actor Danny Glover, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, vocalist Al Jarreau, and bassists Ron Carter and Carl Fuller. Tickets are $22 – $50 and are selling out!

If you haven’t heard any of Golson’s compositions, think again. Golson was writing music for television including M*A*S*H, “The Mod Squad,” “Mission Impossible,” “The Partridge Family,” and the last episode of “The Cosby Show.” Golson wasn’t playing sax in the prime time years, but for the jazz enthusiasts, you probably know his standards: “Killer Joe,” “I Remember Clifford,” “Along Came Betty,” “Stablemates
Whisper Not,” “Blues March,” “Five Spot After Dark,” “Are you Real?”

Benny Golson was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 1993.

I have to admit, I’m not up to speed with jazz these days. And until Dorothy McSweeney told me about this concert, I didn’t know Benny Golson by name or face. Heard some of his tunes, but didn’t make the connection. So here we are. Glad to meet you Mr. Golson and hope you have a Happy Birthday.