“WE’D LIKE YOU TO MEET A FRIEND OF OURS WHO GOES BY THE NAME of Killer Joe. Picture a so-called hippie or hip cat, standing on a corner in a neatly pressed, double-breasted, form-fitted pinstriped suit.” Saxophonist and composer Benny Golson describes his fictitious, street-savvy character in a spoken intro to his tune “Killer Joe” [Meet the Jazztet, Argo, 1960]. The tune was written for the Jazztet, a supergroup that’s not often given its due by critics and historians. Featuring Art Farmer and Benny Golson with Addison Farmer (Art’s twin brother) on bass, the Jazztet premiered many tunes that are still considered standards. Says Golson in an interview with blogger Marc Meyers, “When the song came out in 1960, Art Farmer and I went all over Manhattan putting up posters that said, HAS ANYONE SEEN KILLER JOE? We wanted to give Killer Joe a mystique from the beginning. One night the police caught me, and I almost got arrested.”
A hit at jazz camps around the globe, “Killer Joe” is generally considered an improvising vehicle for beginner-to-intermediate players . . .