Benny Golson: Killer Joe (1960) -- alternate review

Track

Killer Joe

Group

The Jazztet (Benny Golson & Art Farmer)

CD

Meet The Jazztet (Polygram UCCC-9004)

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Musicians:

Benny Golson (tenor sax), Art Farmer (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), McCoy Tyner (piano), Addison Farmer (bass), Lex Humphries (drums).

Composed by Benny Golson

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Recorded: Chicago, February 6, 9, and 10, 1960

Albumcovermeetthejazztet

Rating: 85/100 (learn more)

“Killer Joe” closes “Meet the Jazztet,” an album co-led by trumpeter Art Farmer and saxophonist Benny Golson. A pop-song-length statement of West Coast cool, it became a jukebox hit, thanks to a killer melody and a soulful, laid-back rhythm punctuated by the thick chords of pianist McCoy Tyner. You know this theme, which the horns never stray far from. You’ve heard it in the movies and on TV. The question is: Would the song have ever made it into the broad public consciousness were it not for its gimmick: the spoken-word introduction that informs us the song is in fact about a “hip cat” named Killer Joe who “likes to play the horses” and is “most certainly a ladies man”? It’s doubtful. Still, no complaints here. A great tune is a great tune.

Reviewer: Steve Greenlee

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  • 1 Rich Platz // Oct 22, 2008 at 04:29 AM
    The great challenge for a musician in performing this piece is the shift from the slick mood of the A section, to the diminuendo/crescendo dynamic of the B section; at least that is my opinion. The opening and driving, repetitive bass line along with a "subtle" but "driving" drumming, and the gliding piano comping are its highlight. But, the drama of the bridge is what makes it sound profound. To sustain the mood in Killer Joe is the goal. I've heard groups not do the bridge in the solo sections, and in this there is lost the essence of the piece. I would suggest one not do that. Rich Platz, The Happy Drummer