The complete memorable recordings made by Billie Holiday in 1956-57 backed by a small group including Ben Webster, Harry Edison, Jimmy Rowles and Barney Kessel. A complete Holiday set recorded at Newport during the same period has been added as a bonus. Includes 16-page booklet.
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.
The centennial of Ben Webster's birth occurred in 2009 and producer Nick Phillips mined the vaults of various Concord-owned labels, including Pablo, Riverside, Contemporary, and Prestige/Swingville, to create this compilation featuring the late tenor saxophonist. One of the three giants of his instrument during the 1930s and 1940s (along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young), Webster was still very much at the top of his game when these sessions were recorded. When he took part in the series of small-group dates with Art Tatum, he refused to be intimidated by the pianist's intricate flourishes, simply delivering majestic solos in "My One and Only Love," "All the Things You Are," and "Have You Met Miss Jones." He's very comfortable with old friends Benny Carter and Barney Bigard in an easygoing setting of Carter's "Lula." The two live tracks, "Caravan" and "Georgia on My Mind" taken from At the Renaissance, also find Webster in an inspired mood, supported by a rhythm section including pianist Jimmy Rowles and guitarist Jim Hall.
In the 1950s, tenor-saxophonist Ben Webster was at the peak of his powers. His musical personality really featured two separate emotions: harsh and tough on the faster pieces and surprisingly warm and tender on the ballads. Webster uses the latter voice throughout this two-LP set. On all but four of 20 selections, Ben is backed by a string section arranged by Ralph Burns (except for "Chelsea Bridge" which was arranged by Billy Strayhorn) and, although clarinetists Tony Scott and Jimmy Hamilton and pianists Teddy Wilson and Hank Jones are heard from, the focus is otherwise entirely on the great tenor. The final four numbers, which matches Webster with Wilson in a stringless quartet, also stick to ballads. Music that is both beautiful and creative.
This album comprises two original LPs, now available together on CD for the first time. The first 12 tracks come from Patented by Edison, recorded in 1960, and the last 12 are from Sweetenings, recorded two years earlier. Despite the differing personnels on each album, the format is basically the same: mainly short tracks featuring Harry Edison himself, with the other players somewhat in the background. The results might threaten to be samey, except that Edison is always worth hearing, with his judicious choice of notes and his soft, unassertive tone. It is no surprise that Frank Sinatra wanted Harry to be on many of his recordings with Nelson Riddle's orchestra, because the trumpeter could always supply an inimitable touch of sophistication without overpowering the singer.
Two CD set containing all of the sextet recordings made by Ben Webster and Harry Edison in the studio. Consists of two complete albums, Sweets and Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good To You (both issued under Edison's name), as well as all of the tunes included on two more obscure sessions that the pair played on. Other musicians include Barney Kessel, Red Norvo, Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis and others. 27 tracks recorded in 1956-57.
Ben Webster was not exactly under-recorded during his forty-year playing career but he is among that exclusive hierarchy of jazz artists to whose consistent excellence there can never be an over-abundance of recorded testimony. This album has the merit of offering a nicely balanced and thoughtfully chosen selection of tracks. Four of the tunes are associated with Duke Ellington in whose saxophone section Ben was featured for more than ten years.
Our Blues is a choice example of Ben’s evocative after-hours style of blues playing. An additional bonus is the superior quality of the musicians behind Webster on all these tracks, recorded in Copenhagen between 1968 and 1970.