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.
March 27th 2009 is the 100 years for the birth of the great saxophonist Ben Webster. This will be commemorated especially in Copenhagen, Denmark, where Webster lived his last years. The Ben Webster Foundation celebrates with a great concert and with a new co production with Storyville Records. A double CD, titled The Brute And The Beautiful, will find both sides of Ben Webster with material never or very rarely heard before. The music was put aside for this occasion while Storyville and the Foundation worked in the 8 CD box DIG BEN which has won prizes and much acclaim since it’s release in 2007. The new album contains music recorded in the US by Webster himself, his first appearance on the Continent, ambitious work with strings, rough evenings in clubs, soft ballads, etc. Look forward to hearing the Beautiful Brute in all his splendour.