Portrait of Ben Webster, Pt. I (Podcast #18-002)

“After he had made a record date with us in 1935, I always had a yen for Ben. So as soon as we thought we could afford him, we added him on, which gave us a five-piece saxophone section for the first time. Although Barney Bigard used to play tenor saxophone, clarinet was his main instrument, so Ben Webster was really our first tenor specialist and soloist. His splendid performances on “Cottontail,” “Conga Brava,” “All Too Soon,” “Just a-Settin’ and a-Rockin’,” and “What Am I Here For?” were a sensation everywhere, and he soon became a big asset to the band. His enthusiasm and drive had an especially important influence on the saxophone section.

His influence didn’t end when he left either, because when Paul Gonsalves came into the band he knew all of Ben’s solos note for note.”

-Duke Ellington, Music is my Mistress

 

ben webster

cottontail

Ben Webster’s famous solo on “Cottontail.” Link to the full solo is here.

 



The recordings heard on this podcast episode:



 

elling_duke_complete1_101b

(CD: “The Complete 1933-1940 Brunswick, Columbia and Master Recordings of Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra” Mosaic Records #248)

Truckin’

Recorded 19 August 1935, New York City

Arthur Whetsel, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart – trumpet; Lawrence Brown, Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol – trombone; Otto Hardwicke, Johnny Hodges, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guitar; Billy Taylor – bass; Sonny Greer – drums, Ivy Anderson – vocal.


In A Jam

Recorded 29 July 1936, New York City
Arthur Whetsel, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart – trumpet; Lawrence Brown, Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol – trombone; Otto Hardwicke, Johnny Hodges, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guitar; Billy Taylor – bass; Sonny Greer – drums.


Mood Indigo

Recorded 14 February 1940, Chicago

Wallace Jones, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart – trumpet; Lawrence Brown, Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol – trombone; Otto Hardwicke, Johnny Hodges, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guitar; Jimmie Blanton – bass; Sonny Greer – drums.



 

Highlights

(CD: “Highlights of the Great 1940-1942 Band” Avid AMSC1143)

All Too Soon

Recorded 22 July 1940, New York City

Wallace Jones, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart – trumpet; Lawrence Brown, Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol – trombone; Otto Hardwicke, Johnny Hodges, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guitar; Jimmie Blanton – bass; Sonny Greer – drums.


Cotton Tail 

Recorded 4 May 1940, Los Angeles

Wallace Jones, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart – trumpet; Lawrence Brown, Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol – trombone; Otto Hardwicke, Johnny Hodges, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guitar; Jimmie Blanton – bass; Sonny Greer – drums.


Blue Serge

Recorded 15 February 1941, Los Angeles

Wallace Jones, Ray Nance, Rex Stewart – trumpet; Lawrence Brown, Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol – trombone; Otto Hardwicke, Johnny Hodges, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guitar; Jimmie Blanton – bass; Sonny Greer – drums.


Rain Check

Recorded 2 December 1941, Los Angeles

Wallace Jones, Ray Nance, Rex Stewart – trumpet; Lawrence Brown, Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol – trombone; Otto Hardwicke, Johnny Hodges, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guitar; Jimmie Blanton – bass; Sonny Greer – drums.



 

Duke-at-Fargo-1

Bojangles

Stardust

Recorded 7 November 1940 at The Crystal Ballroom in Fargo, North Dakota
Wallace Jones, Rex Stewart, Ray Nance – trumpet; Lawrence Brown, Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol -trombone; Barney Bigard, Johnny Hodges, Otto  Hardwicke, Ben Webster, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guitar; Jimmie Blanton – bass; Sonny Greer – drums.



nance non ducal

Swinging in 4 (CD: “Ray Nance, The Complete 1940-1949 Non-Ducal Violin Recordings”)

Recorded 1941, Los Angeles

Ben Webster – clarinet; Ray Nance – violin; Fred Guy – guitar; Jimmie Blanton – bass; Sonny Greer – drums.



 

carnegie 48

How High The Moon (CD: “Carnegie Hall, November 13, 1948” Vintage Jazz Classics 1024)

Recorded 13 November 1948 at Carnegie Hall, New York City

Shelton Hemphill, Al Killian, Francis Williams, Harold Baker, Ray Nance – trumpet; Lawrence Brown, Quentin Jackson, Tyree Glenn – trombone; Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope, Johnny Hodges, Al Sears, Ben Webster, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guy; Wendell Marshall – bass; Sonny Greer – drums.


 

It’s Something You Ought To Know (Paul Gonsalves – “Ellingtonia Moods and Blues,” RCA Victor / RCA63562)

Recorded 29 February 1960, New York City

Paul Gonsalves- tenor sax; Johnny Hodges – alto sax; Ray Nance – cornet; Mitchell “Booty” Wood – trombone; Jimmy Jones – piano; Al Hall – bass; Oliver Jackson – drums.


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