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 is being release here for the first time. These 12 tunes (76 minutes), recorded in London over 4 nights at Ronnie Scott's club in 1964, are Ben Webster's first recordings in Europe. Webster is accompanied by three top British jazz musicians: Stan Tracy on piano, Rick Laird on bass and Jackie Dougan on drums. The repertoire consists of both of Ben Webster standards, like "Cottontail", and three bebop tunes: Miles Davis' "The Theme", Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia" and Charlie Parker's "Confirmation". Webster displays deep romanticism - not sentimentality - in his poetic ballads. All in all, this CD is a joy to hear.