162

Joe Williams featuring Ben Webster: Havin' A Good Time

David Rickert By

Sign in to view read count
Havin' A Good Time documents a concert that never should have happened. In the winter of 1964 Providence was socked with a blizzard that kept eager concertgoers away from the club where Joe Williams was playing. Enough people showed up that he still had to perform a few sets, but the lucky few who were there were given a rare treat; improbably, Ben Webster showed up out of nowhere and asked if he could sit in.

This is the sort of magical encounter on which jazz thrives: no preparation, no rehearsal, just a couple of masters joining together to produce some wonderful music on the spot. According to pianist Junior Mance, this was the only meeting between Webster and Williams, and fortunately it was caught on tape. All of these songs are either well-known or based on fairly simple chord progressions, which allows the band to plug into the numbers without much difficulty.

If Webster hadn't appeared, the set would still have been worth a listen; Williams always did his best work in front of an audience, and the fact that the small crowd had braved the storm to see him no doubt only added to his enthusiastic delivery. Blues songs like "Just A Sittin' and A Rockin' were tailor-made for Williams' rich baritone and exuberant presence. But the presence of Webster adds a new dimension; he gets ample solo space, really digging in to the slower numbers that he plays so beautifully, and huffs quietly behind Williams as he sings. The rhythm section seems invigorated by the chance to play with the added firepower; Junior Mance in particular carves out a niche with some smoking accompaniment.

Havin' A Good Time is an appropriate title for this new release. Clearly the audience enjoyed the collaboration and the musicians crafted some terrific entertainment. It may have been cold and snowy outside, but it sure was hot inside.


Track Listing: 1. Just A Sittin' and A Rockin' 2. Kansas City Blues 3. By the River St. Marie 4. That's All 5. Alone Together 6. I'm Through With Love 7. The Great City 8. A Hundred Years From Today 9. Ain't Misbehavin' 10. Honeysuckle Rose 11. Alright, OK, You Win 12. Have A Good Time 13. Band Intro and Goodbye.

Personnel: Joe Williams - vocals; Ben Webster - tenor sax; Junior Mance - piano; Bob Cranshaw - bass; Mickey Roker - drums.

Title: Havin' A Good Time | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Hyena Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Elusive CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Transitions CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Door Girl CD/LP/Track Review Door Girl
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Incidentals CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Heart Knows CD/LP/Track Review Heart Knows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2017
Read Jersey CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 22, 2017
Read "Signals" CD/LP/Track Review Signals
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 13, 2017
Read "Reimagined" CD/LP/Track Review Reimagined
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "Bring Joy" CD/LP/Track Review Bring Joy
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "Day After Day" CD/LP/Track Review Day After Day
by John Eyles
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "Purple Patio" CD/LP/Track Review Purple Patio
by John Sharpe
Published: October 1, 2016
Read "Points of View" CD/LP/Track Review Points of View
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 26, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.