The Full Wiki

Ben Webster: Wikis

  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ben Webster

Background information
Birth name Benjamin Francis Webster
Also known as "The Brute"
"Frog"
Born March 27, 1909(1909-03-27)
Origin Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Died September 20, 1973 (aged 64)
Genres Jazz
Occupations Saxophonist
Instruments Tenor saxophone
Associated acts Coleman Hawkins
Oscar Peterson

Benjamin Francis Webster (Kansas City, Missouri, March 27, 1909 – Amsterdam, September 20, 1973), aka "The Brute" or "Frog," was an influential American jazz tenor saxophonist. Webster, born in Kansas City, Missouri, was considered one of the three most important "swing tenors" along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. Known affectionately as "The Brute",[1] he had a tough, raspy, and brutal tone on stomps (with his own distinctive growls), yet on ballads he played with warmth and sentiment. Stylistically he was indebted to alto star Johnny Hodges, who, he said, taught him to play his instrument.

Contents

Early life and career

Webster learned to play piano and violin at an early age, before learning to play the saxophone, although he did return to the piano from time to time even recording on the instrument occasionally. Once Budd Johnson showed him some basics on the saxophone, Webster began to play that instrument in the Young Family Band (which at the time included Lester Young). Kansas City at this point was a melting pot from which emerged some of the biggest names in 1930s jazz, and Webster joined Bennie Moten's legendary 1932 band that included Count Basie, Oran Page and Walter Page. This era has been recreated in Robert Altman's film Kansas City.

Webster spent time with quite a few orchestras in the 1930s, including Andy Kirk, the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra in 1934, then Benny Carter, Willie Bryant, Cab Calloway, and the short-lived Teddy Wilson big band.

With Ellington

Playing with Duke Ellington's orchestra for the first time in 1935, by 1940 Ben Webster had become its first major tenor soloist. He credited Johnny Hodges, Ellington's alto soloist, as a major influence on his playing. During the next three years he was on many famous recordings, including "Cotton Tail" and "All Too Soon"; his contribution (together with that of bassist Jimmy Blanton) was so important that Ellington's orchestra during that period is known as the Blanton–Webster band. Webster left the band in 1943 after an angry altercation, during which he allegedly cut up one of Ellington's suits.[citation needed]

After Ellington

After leaving Ellington in 1943, Webster worked on 52nd Street in New York City; recorded frequently as both a leader and a sideman; had short periods with Raymond Scott, John Kirby, and Sid Catlett, as well as with Jay McShann's band, which also featured blues shouter Jimmy Witherspoon. In 1948 he returned briefly to the Ellington orchestra for a few months.

In 1953 he recorded King of the Tenors with pianist Oscar Peterson, who would be an important collaborator for Webster throughout the decade. Along with Peterson, trumpeter Harry 'Sweets' Edison and others he was by now touring and recording with Norman Granz' Jazz at the Philharmonic organisation. Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster with fellow tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins was recorded on December 16, 1957 along with Peterson, Herb Ellis (guitar), Ray Brown (bass), and Alvin Stoller (drums). The Hawkins and Webster recording is a jazz classic, the coming together of two giants of the tenor saxophone, who had first met back in Kansas City.

In 1956 he recorded a classic set with pianist Art Tatum, supported by bassist Red Callender and drummer Bill Douglass.

The final decade, in Europe

Webster generally worked steadily but in 1964 he moved permanently to join other American jazz musicians in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he played when he pleased during his last decade. In 1971 Webster reunited with Duke Ellington and his big band for a couple of shows at the Tivoli Gardens in Denmark and he recorded "live" in France with Earl Hines.[2]

Ben Webster died in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1973 and was buried in the Assistens Cemetery in the Nørrebro, Copenhagen. Although not all that flexible or modern, remaining rooted in the blues and swing-era ballads, Webster could swing with the best and his tone was a later influence on such diverse players as Archie Shepp, Lew Tabackin, Scott Hamilton, David Murray, and Bennie Wallace.

Legacy

After Webster's death, Billy Moore Jr. created The Ben Webster Foundation, together with the trustee of Webster's estate. Since Webster's only legal heir, Harley Robinson in Los Angeles, gladly assigned his rights to the foundation, The Ben Webster Foundation was confirmed by The Queen of Denmark's Seal in 1976. In the Foundation's trust deed, one of the initial paragraphs reads: "to support the dissemination of jazz in Denmark".

It is a beneficial Foundation, which channels Webster's annual royalties to musicians, both in Denmark and the U.S. An annual Ben Webster Prize is awarded to a young outstanding musician. The prize is not large, but considered highly prestigious. Over the years, several American musicians have visited Denmark with the help of the Foundation, and concerts, a few recordings, and other jazz-related events have been supported.

Ben Webster's private collection of jazz recordings and memorabilia is archived in the jazz collections at the University Library of Southern Denmark, Odense.

Discography

References

  1. ^ liner notes by Billy James taken from the 1962 recording Ben and "Sweets" CBS 460613
  2. ^ LP issued as Hines's Tune in France with Don Byas, Roy Eldridge, Stuff Smith, Kenny Clarke & Jimmy Woode

External links








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message