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Compact Jazz - The Verve Years

Ben Webster

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Album Review

The two fierce but gentle lions of the jazz saxophone bring more than four combined decades of experience to the table here, from both juke joint and concert hall, European café and New York recording studio. Ably supported by Oscar Peterson's quartet featuring Herb Ellis and Ray Brown, Bean and Ben trade solos full of burnished warmth and proud articulation: Hawkins with his deep, opaque tone and chunky phrasing and Webster piping melodious and genteel, ready for any blues battle thanks to a sweaty and suggestive tone. The '50s may have been for the scions of bebop, but for these two hip veterans the days were still ripe for new ideas, all anchored by valuable skills picked up in the swing-era ranks. That ease of expression and assured sense of song is heard from choice ballads ("It Never Entered My Mind") and wide-open blues ("Budd Johnson") to bop-tinged swingers ("De-Dar") and breezy strollers ("I'll Never Be the Same"); plus, there's one of the all-time great jazz performances: the dusky Latin gem "La Rosita." So, relax and sit a spell while two masters show how it's done.

Biography

Born: March 27, 1909 in Kansas City, MO

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Ben Webster was considered one of the "big three" of swing tenors along with Coleman Hawkins (his main influence) and Lester Young. He had a tough, raspy, and brutal tone on stomps (with his own distinctive growls) yet on ballads he would turn into a pussy cat and play with warmth and sentiment. After violin lessons as a child, Webster learned how to play rudimentary piano (his neighbor Pete Johnson taught him to play blues). But after Budd Johnson showed him some basics on the saxophone, Webster...
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Compact Jazz - The Verve Years, Ben Webster
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