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Ben Webster: At Montmarte 1965-1966

Fifteen years after Charlie Parker’s Swedish tour, tenor saxophone titan Ben Webster took up permanent residence in Denmark. In his first month in Copenhagen, he recorded the first nine previously unreleased tracks on Ben Webster at Montmartre 1965-1966 (Storyville) at that city’s famous jazz club. The last three were recorded a year and a half later. A trio that included the American pianist Kenny Drew and the 18-year-old bassist Niels-Henning _rsted Pedersen joined Webster on the earlier session. The latter was also present on the second date. Unlike the Parker record, this recording’s sound quality is superior. That’s especially important because the album’s greatest appeal is its crystal-clear rendering of the subtleties and nuances of Webster’s extraordinarily beautiful signature tone and phrasing on ballads like “My Romance” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” But Webster also growls and jumps on such fare as “Pennies From Heaven” and two versions of Ellington’s “Cottontail,” where he starts his choruses with the opening phrases of his famous solo on Duke’s 1940 recording. Both Drew and Pedersen are especially impressive as accompanists and soloists.

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