Cincinnati Babyhead

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Duke’s Sidemen : Ben Webster

Ben Webster was his own man (bigger than life) but I love the Ellington connection. Webster was a big part of the Ellington band for years. The clip below is a reunion of the two. Webster had been on his own for years playing with his units but they hooked up here for some old magic. A lot of miles and years on both guys at this time but listen to the sound coming out of that horn. Duke gives the tune just the right accompaniment. Ellington and the band add subtle touches.

Part of the charm is in Ellington’s intro “we have a friend visiting us tonight” and then you see in the clip a tieless Paul Gonsalves enjoying all the bullshit. I get a little emotional watching these guys getting back together and putting differences aside and just playing some of the best music I’ve heard. No one does it better on the tenor than Ben. He had a great sound. He’s past his prime here but he still has great chops. It’s a slower tune but it still swings in a subtle way. Man does it send me. I can listen to that all day long and night time too. Sax Heaven.

Ben Webster. One of Dukes greatest sidemen. The stories he could tell

54 comments on “Duke’s Sidemen : Ben Webster

  1. hotfox63
    May 9, 2021

    Well, Webster’s solos in the Duke’s Orchestra are great, but in my opinion, is the interplay with Coleman Hawkins nothing short of that. On “Encounters Ben Webster”, you can hear the fun they had in the communication with each other.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Aphoristical
    May 9, 2021

    I love Latin America Suite and don’t know any other Ellington stuff. I need to catch up obviously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      May 9, 2021

      You have mentioned that before. Webster had left the bands years before that recording. The clip below was probably down a few years after your album. It would still have great musicians in the band. Duke was always stretching himself musically. Having that stable of players must have been such a luxury for bringing his ideas to life.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jim S.
    May 9, 2021

    Oh boy. I’m taking this Berklee class and my friend Bill and I were just talking about Webster. A smooth, mellow sound. That cat could play. Another one of my stepmother’s favorites along with Johnny Hodges. You like Sir Duke more than just about anybody I know.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah, Another Blogger
    May 9, 2021

    Hi. I just looked up BW on Wikipedia. Learned that he played the same horn from 1938 until he died in 1973. That was a long marriage.

    Liked by 2 people

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      May 9, 2021

      Thats so cool Neil, I didnt know that. In the clip I did notice how big his sax was when he walked up to the microphone. Ben is on my spin list.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Been listening to this guy lately. I’ll get back to you as to which one. Good call CB

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ben Webster Quintet – Soulville (1957)
    I picked it up recently and really enjoying it. Didn’t know anyone else was well aware of him. Thanks for the summary.
    https://www.discogs.com/The-Ben-Webster-Quintet-Soulville/release/8530198

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      May 10, 2021

      Good one press. Ive had that for a long time. Solid outing by Ben and a very good Quintet. Always got a kick out of the last cut. Ben being a big tenor guy and it’s a piano solo. That Peterson, Ellis, Brown combo is all over my pile. Good stuff fella.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. keepsmealive
    May 10, 2021

    Omg. Omg. OMG.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. J.
    May 10, 2021

    This is good stuff, CB… I don’t know any Webster stuff and only know a few Duke cuts (I have The Popular Duke Ellington on LP – picked it up for a £1 and it’s a really great selection of tunes on there… keep meaning to delve in for more).

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      May 10, 2021

      He’s a jazz guy J so way under the musical radar. Ive been mining him for years. He was a sax man so after I got into Coleman Hawkins i started listening to all the great tenor guys. My old man was a big influence (He was a Cash guy also). Ellingtons library is extensive but worth the time. Also Bens albums are a bunch of coolness. Small combos.

      Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        May 10, 2021

        I like albums that are a bunch of coolness, so I might like Ben’s. I’ll have a browse!

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 10, 2021

        The Press Music chimed in with ‘Soulville’. He was listening to it before he read the take. ‘Ben and Sweets’ is pretty swingin. Solid stuff by a couple of the best.
        (Let me know when you get some air and we can throw a couple ideas around for a duo).

        Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        May 10, 2021

        I’ve added them to the list. I’ll have a look later and hopefully check some out.

        (Strangely enough I just stopped you an email!)

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 10, 2021

        Just listening to Ben and Sweets. So good. The cut ‘Kitty’ is playing and you could see Frank singing if it had lyrics.
        (Checking)

        Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        May 10, 2021

        Ben and Sweets will be first up!

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 10, 2021

        I think you’re in for a musical treat.

        Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        May 10, 2021

        I’ll report back!

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 10, 2021

        I was just reading about “Sweets” Edison. He backed a million sessions but of note, your man Blue Eyes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        May 10, 2021

        Apparently Sinatra requested him for In The Wee Small Hours when he heard he was in town. Think he’s on most of the Capitol albums. Or certainly everything Sinatra did with Riddle. Also appears on Sinatra at the Sands (with Count Basie).

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 10, 2021

        That is so cool. Frank new his players. You know way more than I do. I know him from a lot of his session work and side work with so many good people.

        Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        May 10, 2021

        I do like Sinatra quite a bit, CB. I dare say his stuff was just as much my gateway to jazz as hearing Kind of Blue was… both were huge for opening my mind.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 10, 2021

        Oh yeah. I love the routes that people find their music. The Sinatra thing doesn’t surprise me. Great portal. People like Webster and Edison brought so much guts and experience. Frank must have been in heaven.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. 1dancequeendq
    May 11, 2021

    I haven’t sought out Ben Webster as an individual musician. I’ve heard him as part of Ellington and other bands and ensembles. It was good to listen to him. As you say CB – Sax Heaven.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. badfinger20 (Max)
    May 21, 2021

    Smooth as Tennessee Whiskey man…those jazz guys put their soul into it and it shows.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      May 21, 2021

      No kidding. What history those guys had. I think Ben and Duke had a falling out years before this this is so cool. Max, these guys played gig after gig and then they would find an after hours place and play some more, for themselves. Webster has a great sound. Neil from Yeah another Blogger said he had that same horn most of his career.

      Liked by 1 person

      • badfinger20 (Max)
        May 21, 2021

        You know you love when you do when you play all night and then play for the pure joy of it.

        Yea man I bet that horn was like a guitarist’s guitar…their own special tool like no other.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 21, 2021

        Im a sax guy and can only imagine what it was like to sit in after hours with Hawkins and Webster dueling out. Blows my mind.
        On the “special tool”, you’d get a guy like Charlie Parker who pawned every horn he ever had. He’d play any beat up thing (plastic even) he could get his hands on when he played gigs. Crazy. ‘Hey Max run and find Charlie a horn would ya, we’re on in an hour.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • badfinger20 (Max)
        May 21, 2021

        Yea man Hendrix was like that also at times…hey we got a gig tonight…get Jimi’s guitar out of hock lol.
        I never knew that about Charlie Parker wow…I would have never guessed that. I guess some didn’t hold instruments close as others…
        Plastic… man

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 21, 2021

        Charlie was a notorious dope fiend. He’s quite the story. Hard core beyond belief and still play. He was a reason a lot of young jazz guys got into heroin. They wanted to play and be like Bird. It was an epidemic. Guys like Ben were hard livers but I dont think they were junkies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • badfinger20 (Max)
        May 21, 2021

        Man that is sad for someone so talented. I have read where jazz and heroin went together for a while… now I know why.
        I knew about Billie Holiday… I think she was hooked bad

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 21, 2021

        It was epidemic. Billie was super sad. Even near the end she still managed to make some good music but it was tainted with her addiction. No hiding it. Parker even wrote a piece about his stay in a mental hospital. ‘Relaxin at the Camarillo’
        Thanks for chiming in as usual. It’s funny, the two previous takes on “Dukes Sidemen” had 36 comments. This one was stuck there also until you broke the streak.

        Liked by 1 person

      • badfinger20 (Max)
        May 21, 2021

        Sorry CB…I woke up with my hands on my laptop keyboard..I fell out last night. Yea that stuff is a nightmare and I can’t believe it makes comebacks every now and then.

        Relaxin at the Camarillo…I’ll have to look that up today…I’m glad I helped break new ground! It’s always a pleasure CB.

        Like

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 21, 2021

        No worries we all float in and out. I expect it. Sometimes the convo just wont end . It’s to good.

        Liked by 1 person

      • badfinger20 (Max)
        May 21, 2021

        I was reading about Parker this morning…just a shame. I found out about him when I was younger through Charlie Watts…he is a huge fan.
        off topic…CB I hope you can squeeze Hans song draft in…

        Like

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 23, 2021

        Yeah Watts has the jazz bone.
        Yes Im thinking about jumping on the Hans train if it isn’t full up.

        Liked by 1 person

      • badfinger20 (Max)
        May 23, 2021

        Funny how we learn things second hand but better late than never.
        Hans and I were talking about if you would join this time…hoping you would…that is cool dude. I like your insights. Yea it’s still time. Only twice a month posting so the pace is great.

        Like

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 23, 2021

        Thanks Max I sent Hans my yes vote.

        Liked by 1 person

      • badfinger20 (Max)
        May 23, 2021

        Thank you CB…we both appreciate it dude!

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        May 24, 2021

        Looking forward to it.

        Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on May 9, 2021 by in Ben Webster, Duke Ellington, Jazz and tagged , .

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