Ben Webster, b: Kansas City, Missouri, 27 March 1909; d: 20 Sept, 1973 Amsterdam

March 28, 2009 at 1:22 am (jazz, Jim D)

Ben Webster was a living contradiction: well-behaved, chatty and friendly when sober; belligerent and sometimes violent when drunk. He carried a knife, and had been known to use it. His tenor sax was the same: on ballads he was breathy and romantic, but he could turn on a rough-edged, almost rock’n’roll sound when he felt like it. His nickname was “The Brute”. Here he is, probably in Copenhagen or Amsterdam, playing the ballad “How Long Has This Been Going On?”, a few years before his death:


…and here he is, playing his classic solo on “Cottontail” with the Ellington band in 1941 or ’42 (plus some amazing dancing!):


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