Friday, April 16, 2010
Ben WEBSTER - King of Tenor 1953
A lot of words aren't needed to describe Ben Webster.. maybe three at best SOULFUL, SWINGING and VERSATILE. While players to follow put more emphasis on melodic, harmonic and rhythmic explorations, Ben Webster's trademark was his tonal mastery and expressiveness on his instrument... he was one of the few players who was able to change his tone according to what he wanted to say.. he could play lush, sweet, mellow and breathy on one tune... then go full honker style in another.. for this reason, this CD, which definitely showcases a wide scope of elements representing his unique virtuosity is a great listen.
THAT'S ALL, of course can be described as a monumentous moment in Jazz... I can only pray more young tenor hot head will get their hands on this album and remember one thing... WARMTH, feeling and expressiveness are what its really about, not the continuity of notes one is able to play in a single riff. Webster was profound, both melodically and expressively, hence its almost impossible not to listen to this CD repeatedly with awe and respect !
By 1953, Ben Webster had carved out his own niche in the world of jazz (and certainly in the world of saxophone). Earlyin his career, the tenor man was under the spell of ColemanHawkins and some critics considered him a mere copy. However, by the '50s, Webster had formed his own idiom. Still showing his roots, Webster nonetheless began to play with more flexible phrasing and a unique breathy tone. Uptempo numbers were intense yet controlled, and his ballad work (probably his greatest asset) was lyrical and more emotional than that of any of his contemporaries.
On KING OF THE TENORS we hear Webster in two different versions of the Oscar Peterson Quartet. The first setting features only one horn (Webster), the second session features legends Harry "Sweets" Edison (trumpet) and Benny Carter (alto sax) in addition to Webster. This reissue includes a previously unreleased version of "Poutin" as well as superb renditions of standard tunes "Tenderly", "Don't Get Around Any More", and the lovely Irish traditional "Danny Boy".
This 1953 date matched Webster with such peers as alto saxophonist Benny Carter, trumpeter Harry Edison, and pianist Oscar Peterson for a series of elegant yet soulful and exuberant small group dates. With no cut longer than four and a half minutes, the players didn't have time for excess statements or overkill; they had to quickly get to the heart of the matter in their solos, make their points, and return to the head. The original session has been enlarged by the addition of two previously unissued tracks, plus an alternate version of "That's All" that was later issued as a single. Label head Norman Granz excelled in producing swing-oriented, crisply played mainstream dates. Although this date is more than four decades old, Ben Webster's solos have a freshness and vitality that make them quite relevant to contemporary events.
By Ron Wynn. AMG.
Ben Webster- Tenor Sax
Benny Carter- Alto Sax
Harry "Sweets" Edison- Trumpet
Oscar Peterson- Piano
Barney Kessel- Guitar
Herb Ellis- Guitar
Ray Brown- Bass
J. C. Heard- Drums
Alvin Stoller- Drums
01. Tenderly 3:05
02. Jive At Six 4:15
03. Don't Get Around Much Any More 3:09
04. That's All (Album Version) 3:50
05. Bounce Blues (Album Version) 4:35
06. Pennies From Heaven 2:52
07. Cotton Tail 3:23
08. Danny Boy 3:40
09. Poutin' 3:59
10. Bounce Blues (1993 King Of Tenors Version) 3:39
11. That's All (Single Version) 2:54