Max Bennett | Max Bennett

Max Bennett (born May 24, 1928 to September 14, 2018) was an American jazz bassist and top session musician.


Bennett grew up in Kansas City and Oskaloosa, Iowa, and went to college in Iowa. His first professional gig was with Herbie Fields in 1949, and following this he played with Georgie Auld, Terry Gibbs, and Charlie Ventura. He served in the Army during the Korean War from 1951 to 1953, and then played with Stan Kenton before moving to Los Angeles. There he played regularly at the Lighthouse Cafe with his own ensemble, and played behind such vocalists as Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez through the 1970s. He also recorded with Charlie Mariano, Conte Candoli, Bob Cooper, Bill Holman, Stan Levey, Lou Levy, Coleman Hawkins and Jack Montrose.

Bennett recorded under his own name from the late 1950s, and did extensive work as a composer and studio musician in addition to jazz playing. He played bass on many records by The Monkees and The Partridge Family, and was one of the musicians Frank Zappa used for the Hot Rats project. He also played on later Zappa albums such as Chunga’s Revenge. His studio work also included bass on the Lalo Schifrin soundtrack to the 1969 film Bullitt as well as Greatest Science Fiction Hits Volumes 1-3 with Neil Norman & His Cosmic Orchestra.

Bennett continued with his own band, L.A. Express, which included Joe Sample, Larry Carlton and John Guerin, under the leadership of Tom Scott. After this band, Bennett formed his own group Freeway, and currently heads his most recent band, Private Reserve.


As leader

Max Bennett Quintet (Bethlehem, 1955)
Max Bennett Sextet (Bethlehem, 1956)
Max Bennett Septet, Quartet & Trio (Bethlehem, 1956)
Max Bennett with Charlie Mariano (Bethlehem)
Interchange (Palo Alto, 1987) U.S. Top Contemporary Jazz #13
The Drifter (1987) U.S. Top Contemporary Jazz #21
Images (TBA, 1989)
Great Expectations (Chase Music, 1993)
Max Is the Factor (Fresh Sound, 2006)

As sideman

Marvin Gaye
Barbra Streisand
Anthony Newley
Paul Anka
Elvis Presley
Shawn Phillips
Four Tops
Nelson Riddle
Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra, Jr
Frank Zappa
Ray Charles
Cleo Laine
Seals & Croft
Joe Williams
Ella Fitzgerald
Michel Colombier
Quincy Jones
Billy Eckstine
Kenny Rogers
The Beach Boys
Carole King
Paul Williams
The Fifth Dimension
First Edition
Phil Spector
Joan Baez
The Temptations
Joni Mitchell
The Crusaders
Tom Scott
L.A. Express
Victor Feldman
O.C. Smith
Judy Collins
Michael Franks
John Williams
Henry Mancini
Lalo Schifrin
Charley Fox
Artie Butler
Ralph Carmichael
Jack Nitzsche
Percy Faith
H. B. Barnum
Peggy Lee
Stan Kenton
Sauter-Finegan Orchestra
Terry Gibbs
Celine Dion
Jose Iglesias
Bill Holman
Grass Roots
David Foster
Michael McDonald
Jose Feliciano
The Friends of Distinction
Jimmy Rowles
George Harrison

With Bob Cooper

Coop! The Music of Bob Cooper (Contemporary, 1958)

With Stan Kenton

Contemporary Concepts (Capitol, 1955)

With Jack Montrose

Blues and Vanilla (RCA Victor, 1956)
The Horn’s Full (RCA Victor, 1957)

With Jack Nitzsche

Heart Beat (Soundtrack) (Capitol, 1980)

With Howard Roberts

Antelope Freeway (Impulse!, 1971)

With Lalo Schifrin

There’s a Whole Lalo Schifrin Goin’ On (Dot, 1968)
Mannix (Paramount, 1968)
Bullitt (soundtrack) (Warner Bros., 1968)
Rock Requiem (Verve, 1971)
Enter the Dragon (soundtrack) (Warner Bros., 1973)

With Gábor Szabó and Bob Thiele

Light My Fire (Impulse!, 1967)

TV, film and motion picture soundtracks written by:

Michel Legrand
Nelson Riddle
Michel Colombier
Quincy Jones
Tom Scott
John Williams
Henry Mancini
Lalo Schifrin
Johnny Mandel
Charlie Fox
Artie Butler
Billy Byers
Elmer Bernstein
Michael Melvoin

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