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Doug Webb: Swing Shift

Jack Bowers By

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Doug Webb is one of a large number of accomplished saxophonists on the West Coast who have largely flown under the radar because... well, basically because they are on the West Coast. That's not to imply that Webb or his cohorts are penniless or not working steadily; that is not the case at all. Besides fronting his own groups, Webb—a graduate of the Berklee School of Music—works regularly in a number of ensembles large and small, and has appeared on more than 500 recordings for hundreds of artists including Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, bassist Stanley Clarke (a member of Webb's quartet on Swing Shift), Quincy Jones, Kyle Eastwood, Rod Stewart, Carly Simon, Queen Latifah, Cher, Vicki Carr and Art Garfunkel. A member for fifteen years of Doc Severinsen's Tonight Show Band, Webb has also recorded music for hundreds of films and television programs.

Swing Shift is the third album produced during a day-long marathon session in April 2009 with Clarke, drummer Gerry Gibbs (son of Terry) and alternating pianists Larry Goldings, Mahesh Balasooriya and Joe Bagg. Its centerpiece is the twenty-two minute "Patagonia Suite," a busy, sometimes raucous pastiche co-written by Webb and Clarke, on which each is given ample scope to unfurl his particular skills, as are Gibbs and Bagg. Webb plays tenor and soprano saxophones on "Patagonia," soprano on the lyrical "Simone," alto on Rodgers and Hart's lovely ballad "Where or When," tenor on Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes," his own "Rizone," and lastly on the even- tempered finale, "Apodemia," again co-authored with Clarke. Needless to say, he excels on every one, and his warm-toned alto is especially pleasing.

Webb gives his tenor a vehement workout on the mercurial "Rizone" (perhaps based on "I Got Rhythm"), after which "Apodemia" seems almost placid by comparison. The three pianists are capable, if not mesmerizing, while Clarke and Gibbs get the job done with a minimum of turbulence, even though called upon from time to time to ramp up the volume. In sum, this is a largely engaging post-bop quartet album whose leader may not be well known but should be.

Track Listing: Soul Eyes; Patagonia Suite; Simone; Where or When; Rizone; Apodemia.

Personnel: Doug Webb: saxophones; Larry Goldings: piano (1); Mahesh Balasooriya: piano (2, 3); Joe Bagg: piano (4, 6); Stanley Clarke: bass; Gerry Gibbs: drums.

Title: Swing Shift | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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