Ben Webster Quartet – live at Frederiksberg, Denmark – January 10, 1965 – Danish Radio (DR) –
Ben Webster and his quartet, consisting of Kenny Drew on piano, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, bass and Alex Riel drums recorded at the broadcast Studio of Danish Radio on January 10, 1965.
Webster started out as a Coleman Hawkins disciple, but under the influence of Ellington his style matured and became more personal. In quick tempos his solos contained great rhytmic momentum, a rasping timbre and an almost brutal aggressiveness, while his ballad playing was breathy and sensual, delivered with one of the most beautiful sounds ever captured on a tenor saxophone.
A few words via the official Ben Webster Biography:
“After leaving Ellington, Webster formed his own small groups or played with other small ensembles, e.g. John Kirkby in 1944 in New York. In late 1948 he rejoined Ellington for a short year, after which Webster returned to Kansas City to play with Bus Moten, Bob Wilson and Jay McShann. From 1952 he spent his time between Los Angeles and New York playing with his own groups, freelancing, or recording with a variety of soloists, among them singers like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams, and Jimmy Witherspoon with whom Webster toured reguarly around 1960.
Webster toured with Norman Granz’s Jazz at the Philharmonic in the fall of 1953 and 1954, and it was also Granz who was instrumental in giving Webster a recording contract that gave his career a new lift with excellent albums such as King of the Tenors (1953) and Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson (1959.
In early December 1957 Webster took part in the now legendary CBS TV broadcast The Sound of Jazz where he both performed with Count Basie and with Billie Holiday, and in the latter he was united with the other two swing era tenor saxophone greats, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, the only occasion they played together ever. Everyone played excellently on Fine and Mellow, Young very moving, Hawkins with self-confidence, and Webster intense and emotional.
Despite fine reviews of his albums, it was difficult for Webster to find steady work in New York during the early 1960’s, and when an offer to play for a month at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London turned up in late 1964 he accepted and sailed to England.
Webster never returned to the United States. In Europe he found plenty of work, and after the successful London gig, he flew to Scandinavia for weeklong residences in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo, settled in Amsterdam (1966-69) and then in Copenhagen. He toured frequently, mostly in Northern Europe, playing in clubs or at festivals with local bands or with expatriate or visiting American musicians, such as Benny Carter, Bill Coleman, Don Byas, Kenny Drew, Teddy Wilson, Red Mitchell, Charlie Shavers, Carmell Jones, Brew Moore, Dexter Gordon, Clark Terry, and Buck Clayton.”
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