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Max Bennett (born May 24, 1928) is an American jazz bassist and session musician.

Max Bennett
Max Bennett 1976.jpg
Bennett in San Francisco, 1976.
Background information
Born (1928-05-24) May 24, 1928 (age 90)
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Session musician
Instruments Bass guitar
Years active 1949–present
Associated acts L.A. Express



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.[1] 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. Often associated with The Wrecking Crew, he performed on many records by The Monkees and The Partridge Family.

In 1969, Bennett served as the principal bassist for Frank Zappa's Hot Rats project.[1] According to Bennett, "I was not familiar with Zappa’s music. Our paths never crossed. I was never a big fan of avant garde music in that sense. It was while I was working in the studio, what was it, 1967, I think? And I got a call from John Guerin. He said, ‘Get your stuff over to TTG’—that was in Hollywood—‘I got a double session for you with Frank Zappa.’ So we get there and we worked two double sessions for two nights. And that was the album, that was Hot Rats.” He also played on later Zappa albums such as Chunga's Revenge.[2]

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.

In 1973, Guerin and Bennett joined Tom Scott's L.A. Express alongside Joe Sample and Larry Carlton. After recording their eponymous debut album, the jazz fusion quintet served as the core band for Mitchell's Court and Spark (1974). A subsequent iteration of the group (including guitarist Robben Ford and pianist Larry Nash) backed Mitchell on the live Miles of Aisles (1974) and recorded two smooth jazz albums for Caribou Records following Scott's departure in 1976. After the band's dissolution, Bennett formed his own group, Freeway. As of 2016, he continues to perform with Private Reserve.[3][4]


As leaderEdit

  • 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 sidemanEdit

With Bob Cooper

With Stan Kenton

With Jack Montrose

With Jack Nitzsche

With Howard Roberts

With Lalo Schifrin

With Gábor Szabó and Bob Thiele

TV, film and motion picture soundtracks written by:


External linksEdit