Benny Golson Delivers Berklee Teachers Conference Keynote

Kimberly Ashton
January 24, 2014
Benny Golson delivers the BTOT keynote.
Photo by Michael Spencer

Tenor saxophonist Benny Golson is often described with terms common to a small but renowned circle of jazz artists. “Words like icon, master, legend, teacher, mentor, and even gentleman,” Bill Pierce, chair of the Woodwind Department, said as he introduced the jazz legend, who delivered the keynote address at this year’s Berklee Teachers on Teaching (BTOT) event.

But these descriptors are insufficient, Pierce added, calling Golson “one of the mainstays of American composition, and American music.” And in her opening remarks, Berklee associate professor Hey Rim Jeon said three words embody Golson and his career: Passion, integrity, and creativity.

It was these concepts that Berklee faculty members explored in this year’s BTOT conference, in which educators looked at what constitutes effective teaching and learning.

Golson, who has written more than 300 compositions and recorded more than 30 albums, advised those in the audience at the Berklee Performance Center to be open to music they might not even like. “Some of the things you may not like you may not understand … We have to do a lot of listening and a lot of assessing. Before you turn your nose up at something, you have to really learn what it’s about.”