display | more...
"The Frog".

Ben Webster was born in 1909, in Kansas City, Missouri. Before learning the tenor sax, he played the piano, violin, clarinet and alto sax. His first "performance" was playing the piano in a cinema.

In 1930, he played in W.H. Young's orchestra (father of Lester).
In 1933 he played with Count Basie in Benny Moten's orchestra. In 1934 he played with Benny Carter.

Influenced primarily by Coleman Hawkins, he begins to develop a personal style. I have heard his style described in many ways, but to me it always sounds like melting butter in an oven. If you hear a saxophone that sounds like that, you can bet your life it's Ben Webster.

From 1935-1945 he works with Duke Ellington, Roy Eldridge, Teddy wilson, Sidney Catlett, Henry Allen and several others. In a long stint with the Duke he refines his style.

In 1948 He is hired by Norman Gratz for the J.A.T.P until 1959. His financial problems are solved, and he plays with greats such as Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown.

In 1964 he emigrated to Europe, and in 1969 settled in Copenhagen.

In 1973, Ben was taken ill during a performance in Leiden, Holland, and died from a brain haemmorage in a hospital in Amsterdam.

On March 27th 1909 Benjamin Francis Webster was born in Kansas City.
Musical Histroy
Ben Webster was considered as one of the big three of tenors which liked to swing, these players were Coleman Hawkins which turned out to be his main influence, there was also Lester Young, who had a brutal tone on the sax, but later on ballads he would turn his sound into the most gentle sound, which would be full of warmth.

Shortly after Violin lessons when Webster was a child, he would learn to learn the basics of piano, (his neighbor Pete Johnson showed him how the play the blues). Shortly after this Webster was introduced to Budd Johnson, Webster began to learn the basic of jazz from him. At this time Webster played in a young bands, which included at the time Lester young. Webster spent his time playing around with orchestras with people such as Andy Kirk and Cab Calloway. In 1940 Webster was finally given the first tennor place in Duke Ellington's big band and over the years he was on famous recordings such as Cotton Tail and "All to soon", after finishing with Ellington’s band he recorded frequently, which included him as a main man, but also as a sideman.

Ben Webster was well known for using mostly one kind of set up, his sax was a 1938 Paris made Selmer "balanced action" model. The mouth piece he was using was a New York Otto Link as well. Incidently Webster named his sax "Betsy which is now being held at the The Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University

Ben Webster died September 20, 1973 in Amsterdam.

Listed Albums

All are as good as each other, but the last one is in my opinion my favioute, Hawkins and Webster play so well together, their styles so drasticaly different.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.