Recent listening, current

Saturday, July 27, 2013

117. Ben Webster and Associates (1959)

Similar to the Rollins/Coltrane session Tenor Madness, much of Webster's Ben Webster and Associates feels like friends trying out ideas with relatively no pressure. In other words, a damned good jam session. Of course, with this lineup, the music has a completely different feel than Sonny Rollins and Coltrane. Webster and Co. start off with "In a Mellow Tone," and keep at it for over 20 minutes. It's so enjoyable, it's a shame the tune has to end. There's room for everyone: Webster, Budd Johnson, Hawk, Roy Eldridge, even Ray Brown gets two choruses. The excitement building for the final push to the end isn't to be missed. They next turn up the heat for "De-Dar," a bluesy tune with with a boisterous arrangement that swings hard. As far as the tenors go, I like listening to all the different styles on the same record -- Johnson's streamlined and laconic phrases in double time, Hawk's strident tone emerging like a dark horse, and Webster alternately growling or whispering but always playing straight. "Time After Time" strips Johnson, Hawkins, and Eldridge for a more intimate setting and allows further explorations in the diverse sound that Webster was famous for. So what are you waiting or? Get on the stick! This should be on every shelf.

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