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", 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.
The music on this CD (8 tunes; 67 min) has never been previously released. The CD contains three sessions with tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, recorded live at the Stampen jazz club in Stockholm, in 1969, 1971 and 1973. On each of these quintet sessions he is joined by at least one of the following major jazz stars: pianist Teddy Wilson, trumpeter Roffe Ericson, bassist Red Mitchell or drummer Ed Thigpen. The repertoire consists of five standard favorites which Webster played as a member of the Duke Ellington orchestra, plus one bebop tune. The numbers average over eight minutes in length, allowing Ben and his fellow soloists to really stretch out. Ben Webster was obviously enjoying himself on these gigs - one can hear him shouting out approval to his group members - and you will, too.