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December 2007

Ben Webster
Dig Ben!
Storyville

Ben Webster, who became famous while with Duke Ellington during 1939-43, was one of many saxophonists completely overshadowed by Coltrane in the 1960s. Afraid of flying, he sailed for Europe in late 1964 and never came back to the United States, spending his last nine years working as often as he wanted to on the Continent. Dig Ben! (Storyville) has most of Webster’s recordings for the Storyville label during 1964-73, with 75 percent of the music being previously unreleased. Although not reissued in chronological order, it doesn’t matter much since Webster’s sound, repertoire and style did not change during the final period. He is in consistently excellent form, whether heading a quartet with pianist Kenny Drew, being featured with orchestras or interacting with the likes of Buck Clayton, Teddy Wilson, Milt Hinton, Clark Terry and Dexter Gordon. Largely forgotten in the United States during these years, Ben Webster was a giant up until the end.

Originally published in December 2007
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