Benny Golson

Tune In, Turn on the Hippest Commercials of the Sixties

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Musically speaking, the low rating for this CD is perfectly appropriate, because this album (originally titled Tune In, Turn On To the Hippest Commercials of the Sixties) is the kind of release that serious jazz listeners loathed. For sheer enjoyment, however, one can raise the rating by better than half-it is fun even if it isn't remotely the best jazz, or jazz at all. Benny Golson leads an orchestra featuring Art Farmer on trumpet and flugelhorn, Eric Gale on guitar, and Bernard Purdie at the drums, doing jazzed versions of the theme music from popular commercials. Some of it does work-Farmer and Gale have their moments-but a good deal of this recording (especially material like "The Swinger," for the Polaroid camera) comes off as jazz-muzak; it's doubtful that even Miles Davis could have done much more with the repertory here, and Golson wasn't being half as ambitious. Elliot Horne's original notes talk about Golson's credits and musical imagination, but here he even leaves the vocal choruses intact on several tracks, which ensures that listeners think of the original commercials and the products, not the music; in fact, next to this record, Verve's Count Basie Plays The Beatles is hot, swinging, and daring. Golson's own "The Golden Glow" is one of the better tracks here, and one of the oddities present is Elmer Bernstein's theme from The Magnificent Seven, because it was also the Marlboro cigarettes theme music of the period. The CD packaging includes a high quality reproduction of the original LP jacket, a comically ornate late '60s lay-out featuring a television set with a psychedelic test pattern, which made it a perennially popular '60s artifact among album art collectors. And for those who care about such things, it is interesting to learn the official names of some of the commercial themes here, such as "The Disadvantages of You" (Benson & Hedges 100 cigarettes), as well as their composer credits. And the CD (in excellent sound) is fun, and has just enough creativity to keep it diverting for the purists.

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