Ballads (Remastered) Ben Webster
- 2Cry Me a River04:14
- 3For Heaven's Sake07:50
- 5My Romance08:37
- 6Willow Weep for Me05:21
- 7Old Folks07:33
Info for Ballads (Remastered)
The nickname “The Brute and the Beautiful” was aptly given to tenor saxophonist Ben Webster. He became famous for his beautiful sound which gave his ballad playing a unique touch of tenderness, while his playing in faster tempos was virile and filled with growl.
Webster is regarded as one of the three foremost swing era tenor saxophonists – the two others being Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. His ballad playing and sound inspired such later fellow saxophonists as Paul Gonsalves, Harold Ashby, Archie Shepp, Eddie ”Lockjaw” Davis, Frank Foster, Sonny Rollins, Flip Phillips, Georgie Auld, John Coltrane, Scott Hamilton, and Branford Marsalis. Ben never launched into double-time while playing ballads, as was the custom with most tenor saxophonists at that time, but maintained the song’s feeling throughout while staying in the slow tempo. He was one of the unique jazz musicians whose presence came through on every recording.
„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.“ (Scott Yanow, AMG)
Ben Webster, tenor saxophone
Tony Scott, clarinet
Jimmy Hamilton, clarinet
Danny Bank, clarinet, flute
Billy Strayhorn, piano
Teddy Wilson, piano
Hank Jones, piano
Wendell Marshall, double bass
Ray Brown, double bass
George Duvivier, double bass
Louie Bellson, drums
Osie Johnson, drums
Jo Jones, drums
Ralph Burns, arrangements, conductor
In the constant evolution of its proprietary mastering process, 2xHD has progressed to a new phase called 2xHD FUSION, integrating the finest analog, with state-of-the-art digital technology.
The mastering chain consists of a selection of high-end vacuum tube equipment. For the recordings on this album, the original ¼” 15 ips CCIR master tapes were played on a Nagra-T tape recorder, modified with high-end tube playback electronics, wired from the playback head directly to a Telefunken EF806 tube, using OCC silver cable. The Nagra T, with its four direct drive motors, two pinch rollers and a tape tension head, has one of the best transports ever made. A custom-built carbon fiber head block and a head damping electronic system permit 2XHD FUSION to obtain a better resolution and 3D imaging.
The resulting signal is then transformed into high resolution formats by recording it in DSD11.2kHz using a Merging Technologies’ Horus A to D converter. All analog and digital cables that are used are state of the art. The 2xHD FUSION mastering system is powered by a super capacitor power supply, using a new technology that lowers the digital noise found in the lowest level of the spectrum. A vacuum tube NAGRA HDdac (DSD) is used as a reference digital playback converter in order to A and B with the original analog master tape., permitting the fusion of the warmth of analog with the refinement of digital.
2xHD was created by producer/studio owner André Perry and audiophile sound engineer René Laflamme.
The nickname ”The Brute and the Beautiful” was aptly given to tenor saxophonist Ben Webster. He became famous for his beautiful sound which gave his ballad playing a unique touch of tenderness, while his playing in faster tempos was virile and filled with growl, and when sober he was the kindest and gentlest man, witty and entertaining and the natural center of the gathering, while he was unpredictable and violent when he had consummated too much of alcohol. Despite this Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde-personality he was a much loved musician and recorded a fairly amount of excellent records of which most still are in stock, due to the fact that he is the best selling tenor saxophonist in jazz.
Ben(jamin Francis) Webster was born in Kansas City, MO on March 27, 1909. In elementary school he studied violin and taught himself piano, inspired by the nearby living Pete Johnson who taught him to play the blues. In 1927 he played for silent movies in Kansas City, but left town a little later to play with a small territory band, but in the spring of 1928 he was again playing for silent movies, this time in Amarillo, Texas. Here he met Budd Johnson who taught him how to make a sound on a saxophone, and Webster got so interested that he borrowed an alto saxophone. In 1930 he left Amarillo with Gene Coy’s Happy Black Aces, and after a few months Coy baught him his first tenor saxophone, because ”I couldn’t express myself on alto. The tenor had a bigger sound.”
From then on, Webster’s carreer took some fast leaps forward. After Coy, he joined first Jap Allen’s band and then Blanche Calloway’s before he became a member of Bennie Moten’s important band and contributed some fine solos on the band’s famous marathon recording session in December 1932, such as Moten Swing. Shortly afterwards, Webster returned to Kansas City where he got hired by Andy Kirk, and in June 1934 he went to New York to play with Fletcher Henderson’s famous orchestra, actually switching job with Lester Young who in turn went to Kirk. The next few years were spent with Benny Carter (late 1934), who was the first to see Webster’s potential as a ballad interpreter (Dream Lullaby), Willie Bryant (1935-36), Cab Calloway (1936-37), before he rejoined Henderson in July 1937 for a short year after which he joined first Stuff Smith and later Roy Eldridge in New York. During these years, Webster also participated in some small group recording sessions, notably those led by Teddy Wilson and Billie Holidaye e.g. What a Little Moonlight Can Do.
In April 1939 he became a member of Teddy Wilson’s big band and was its most important soloist, but a dream came true when he was offered a permanent job in Duke Ellington’s orchestra. He therefore left Wilson in January 1940 and went to Boston to play his first job with Ellington. (Actually he had subbed for Barney Bigard on two short occasions, in 1935 and 1936).
Webster stayed with Ellington until early August 1943, and it was during these years he gained national and international fame with recordings like Cotton Tail - which became his signature tune - Jack the Bear, Harlem Air Shaft, and Sepia Panorama.
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.
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. For more information visit: http://www.benwebster.dk