Benny Golson: Whisper Not
Benny Golson (tenor sax)
Tenor Legacy (Arkadia 70742)
Geoff Keezer (piano), Dwayne Burno (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums).
Composed by Benny Golson.
Recorded: New York, January 29-30, 1996
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Benny Golson has said that he wrote "Whisper Not" in only 20 minutes, and that the title meant "nothing" – he just liked the way the two words sounded together. (Leonard Feather would later write lyrics.) From such ordinary beginnings in 1956 emerged a jazz standard. Its earliest recordings came on Golson's debut as leader (New York Scene) and on albums by the Dizzy Gillespie big band and Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers while Golson was a member of each of those congregations. Most recently, it appeared on Golson's new Jazztet CD New Time, New 'Tet.
This 1996 version of "Whisper Not" features the then up-and-coming James Carter, who'd just won the Downbeat Critics Poll as "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition" in the tenor sax category. Carter's extroverted, provocative playing on this track challenges Golson, and the leader more than holds his own. Golson and Carter harmonize the classic theme in a leisurely and subdued manner, a mood that is immediately broken by Carter's ebullient improvisation. His creative and assured navigation of the chord changes, propulsive turnarounds, and varied tonal effects – sometimes sounding like Rahsaan Roland Kirk playing two horns at once – all bring fresh energy to a familiar tune. Golson follows with his unique tone, almost a cross between two of his influences, Don Byas and Lucky Thompson. He plays tumbling, convoluted, mostly staccato, ascending and descending lines with an unwavering momentum. Keezer is rhapsodic, obviously inspired by both of the tenors preceding him. Burno's solo impresses with its sound quality and content. Golson and Carter then enter the stirring march-like section of the piece that is always so remindful of the composer's "Blues March," before moving again to the central theme.
Reviewer: Scott Albin