6

Ben Webster: In Norway

Chris Mosey By

Sign in to view read count
Ben Webster: In Norway Ben Webster refused to fly. When he visited Norway from Denmark, his adopted homeland, he went by boat and when he got there would blame his somewhat uncertain gait on his "sea legs," rather than the large amounts of alcohol he had consumed in the vessel's bar. Sometimes his "sea legs" were so bad, initial concerts had to be rescheduled.

However, by 1970, when this date was recorded, Webster was 61 and slowing down just a little. Either that or the long, dry ride north to Trondheim had a sobering effect. You never know, he might even have felt a certain obligation to his hosts, who treated him to conducted tours of Trondheim's Nidaros Cathedral and the wondrous Museum of Music and Musical Instruments in nearby Ringve.

One way or another, no sea legs. Instead, 11 immaculately performed standards, five of them from the repertoire of Duke Ellington, who gave Webster his first break. There's a laidback version of "Cotton Tail," his feature number with Ellington that's so blissful it makes those stories of the break-up, in which Webster is said to have cut up one of his leader's suits, doubtful.

Still, not for nothing was he nicknamed "Brute." Back in the days when he did fly, Webster was en route to a gig in LA with the Ellington band when the pilot woke him to warn of turbulence. If there was one thing Webster hated, it was having his sleep interrupted. He drew back his fist and floored the fellow. Fortunately the pilot recovered in time to make a safe descent.

On the sleeve Ellington is wrongly credited with writing "How Long Has This Been Going On?" It was, of course, penned by George and Ira Gershwin.

Webster is at his relaxed and confident best, occasionally shouting joyous encouragement at pianist Tore Sandnaes, who was woefully under- recorded by whoever taped the concert. Worse still, on the closing number, Rodgers and Hart's "My Romance," after Webster has stated the theme, Sandnaes suffers the ignominy of being faded out.

A shockingly abrupt ending. Otherwise, though, there are no surprises. With just four years left to live, Webster did what was expected of him and with seemingly effortless grace. Of course, it wasn't effortless at all. Brute was a giant, up there with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. That took a lifetime of hard work. He made it sound easy, that's all.


Track Listing: In A Mellotone; How Long Has This Been Going On; Sunday; Star Dust; Perdido; Satin Doll; I Got Rhythm; Danny Boy; The “C” Jam Blues; Cotton Tail; My Romance.

Personnel: Ben Webster: tenor saxophone; Tore Sandnaes: piano; Bjørn Alterhaug: bass; Kjell Johansen: drums.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Storyville Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Ghosts Appearing Through The Sound" CD/LP/Track Review Ghosts Appearing Through The Sound
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 27, 2016
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by John Sharpe
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "All Things" CD/LP/Track Review All Things
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 26, 2016
Read "Sanjay Divecha and Secret" CD/LP/Track Review Sanjay Divecha and Secret
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Instant Oats" CD/LP/Track Review Instant Oats
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 18, 2016
Read "Gurutopia" CD/LP/Track Review Gurutopia
by James Nadal
Published: March 22, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!