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Webster, Ben

Biography

Benjamin Francis Webster (March 27, 1909 – September 20, 1973), a.k.a. "The Brute" or "Frog," was an influential American jazz tenor saxophonist. Webster, born in Kansas City, Missouri, was considered one of the three most important "swing tenors" along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. Known affectionately as "The Brute",[1] he had a tough, raspy, and brutal tone on stomps (with his own distinctive growls), yet on ballads he played with warmth and sentiment. Stylistically he was indebted to alto star Johnny Hodges, who, he said, taught him to play his instrument. After Webster's death, Billy Moore Jr. created The Ben Webster Foundation, together with the trustee of Webster's estate. Since Webster's only legal heir, Harley Robinson in Los Angeles, gladly assigned his rights to the foundation, The Ben Webster Foundation was confirmed by The Queen of Denmark's Seal in 1976. In the Foundation's trust deed, one of the initial paragraphs reads: "to support the dissemination of jazz in Denmark". It is a beneficial Foundation, which channels Webster's annual royalties to musicians, both in Denmark and the U.S. An annual Ben Webster Prize is awarded to a young outstanding musician. The prize is not large, but considered highly prestigious. Over the years, several American musicians have visited Denmark with the help of the Foundation, and concerts, a few recordings, and other jazz-related events have been supported. Webster's private collection of jazz recordings and memorabilia is archived in the jazz collections at the University Library of Southern Denmark, Odense.

Featured Tracks




Recordings

Webster, Ben / Clayton, Buck: Ben & Buck

Live at Antwerp Jazz Club, Café Samson, Antwerp, Belgium, June 16, 1967 All the material in this exciting album is previously unissued. It is a rare opportunity to hear two swing era giants together in a relaxed club setting for a programme of Jazz standards and quality ballads. The recording also represents a meeting of two great jazz traditions; Ben first achieved fame as a star soloist with Duke Ellington Orchestra in the early 1940s and Buck was the featured trumpeter with Count Basie’s big band from 1936 to 1943. Both subsequently followed freelance careers and their musical paths crossed infrequently making this release a especially valuble musical document.