Max Bennett (musician)

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Max Bennett
Bennett in San Francisco, 1976.
Background information
Born(1928-05-24)May 24, 1928
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
DiedSeptember 14, 2018(2018-09-14) (aged 90)
San Clemente, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Session musician
Instrument(s)Bass guitar, double bass
Years active1949–2018

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

Early life[edit]

Bennett grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and Oskaloosa, Iowa, and went to college in Iowa.


Bennett's 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 [ Elkie Brooks ] 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 [sic], 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.”[2] He also played on subsequent Zappa albums such as Chunga's Revenge.[3]

His studio work also included bass on the 1969 Lalo Schifrin soundtrack to the 1968 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.[2] After recording their eponymous debut album, the jazz fusion quintet served as the core band for Mitchell's Court and Spark (1974).[2] A subsequent iteration of the group (including guitarist Robben Ford and pianist Larry Nash) backed Mitchell on the live Miles of Aisles (1974)[2] 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. He continued to perform with his last group, Private Reserve, until his death in 2018.[4][3]


As leader[edit]

  • 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[edit]

With Hoyt Axton

With Joan Baez

With Stephen Bishop

With Bobby Bland

  • His California Album (Dunhill, 1973)

With David Blue

  • Com'n Back for More (Asylum, 1975)

With Terence Boylan

  • Terence Boylan (Asylum, 1977)

With Elkie Brooks

With Vikki Carr

  • Ms. America (Columbia, 1973)

With Keith Carradine

With Ry Cooder

With Bob Cooper

With Bobby Darin

With The 5th Dimension

  • Living Together, Growing Together (Bell, 1973)

With Don Everly

  • Don Everly (Ode, 1971)

With José Feliciano

  • Just Wanna Rock 'n' Roll (RCA Victor, 1975)

With Michael Franks

With Art Garfunkel

With Bobbie Gentry

With Cyndi Grecco

With Henry Gross

  • Henry Gross (ABC Records, 1972)

With Arlo Guthrie

With George Harrison

With Jack Jones

  • Harbour (RCA Victor, 1974)
  • What I Did for Love (RCA Victor, 1975)

With Barbara Keith

  • Barbara Keith (Reprise, 1973)

With Stan Kenton

With Bill LaBounty

  • Promised Love (Curb Records, 1975)

With Peggy Lee

With Lori Lieberman

  • A Piece of Time (Capitol Records, 1974)

With Lulu

  • Lulu (Polydor Records, 1973)

With Barry Mann

  • Barry Mann (Casablanca Records, 1980)

With Bette Midler

With Joni Mitchell

With The Monkees

With Jack Montrose

With Walter Murphy

  • Rhapsody in Blue (Private Stock, 1977)

With Michael Nesmith

With Wayne Newton

  • Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast (Chelsea, 1972)
  • While We're Still Young (Chelsea, 1973)

With Jack Nitzsche

With Kenny Nolan

  • A Song Between Us (Polydor, 1978)

With Tom Pacheco

  • The Outsider (RCA Records, 1976)

With Austin Roberts

  • The Last Thing On My Mind (Chelsea, 1973)

With Howard Roberts

With Buffy Sainte-Marie

With Lalo Schifrin

With O. C. Smith

  • Together (Caribou, 1977)

With Otis Spann

With Barbra Streisand

With Jim Sullivan

With Gábor Szabó and Bob Thiele

With Valdy

  • Country Man (Haida, 1972)
  • Landscapes (Haida, 1973)

With Frank Zappa

TV, film and motion picture soundtracks written by:


  1. ^ a b Chadbourne, Eugene. "Max Bennett Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Blackburn, Dave (September 12, 2011). "A Conversation with Max Bennett". Retrieved September 3, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "The Unbelievable True Story of the Wrecking Crew's Max Bennett". 26 April 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  4. ^ Kohlhaase, Bill (30 November 1991). "Bennett Takes It to the Maxx". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]