This release presents some of the most impressive Ben Webster sessions from the 50's, showcasing his romantic side and his full and warm sound on beautiful ballads.
On these sides, originally compiled in 1978 by Verve on a double-LP set, he is accompanied by old friends like Billy Strayhorn, Teddy Wilson and Jimmy Hamilton. The dates also feature Tony Scott, Hank Jones, George Duvivier and Louie Bellson as well as orchestras arranged by Strayhorn and Ralph Burns.
01. CHELSEA BRIDGE (3:57)
02. LOVE IS HERE TO STAY (3:24)
03. IT HAPPENS TO BE ME (3:23)
04. ALL TOO SOON (4:47)
05. WILLOW WEEP FOR ME (4:40)
06. COME RAIN OR COME SHINE (4:23)
07. PRELUDE TO A KISS (4:47)
08. DO NOTHIN' TILL YOU HEAR FROM ME (4:44)
09. MY GREATEST MISTAKE (3:37)
10. THERE IS NO GREATER LOVE (3:42)
11. BLUE MOON (5:06)
12. WHAT AM I HERE FOR (3:58)
13. WE'LL BE TOGETHER AGAIN (4:32)
14. EARLY AUTUMN (4:50)
15. UNTIL TONIGHT (4:10)
16. TEACH ME TONIGHT (4:03)
17. MY FUNNY VALENTINE (3:24)
18. SOPHISTICATED LADY (3:05)
19. ALMOST LIKE BEING IN LOVE (3:59)
Total Time: 78:40 min.
This compilation was originally issued in 1978 as "Ballads" (Verve VE 2530).
Personnel on tracks #1-4 & 19: Ben Webster (ts), Tony Scott (cl), Billy Strayhorn (p), George Duvivier (b) and Louie Bellson (d), plus strings arranged and conducted by Billy Strayhorn. Recorded in New York, on May 28, 1954.
Personnel on tracks #5-8: Ben Webster (ts), Jimmy Hamilton (cl), Danny Bank (cl, fl, b-cl), Teddy Wilson (p), Wendell Marshall (b) and Louie Bellson (d), plus strings arranged and conducted by Ralph Burns. Recorded in New York, on December 15, 1954.
Personnel on tracks #9-16: Ben Webster (ts), Hank Jones (p), Chet Amsterdam, Wendell Marshall (b) and Osie Johnson (d), plus wind and string orchestra arranged and conducted by Ralph Burns. Recorded in New York, on September 9, 1955.
Personnel on tracks #17-18: Ben Webster (ts), Teddy Wilson (p), Ray Brown (b) and Jo Jones (d). Recorded in New York, on March 30, 1954.
"In the 1950s, tenor-saxophonist Ben Webster was at the peak of his powers. His musical personality really featured two separate emotions: harsh and tough on the faster pieces and surprisingly warm and tender on the ballads. Webster uses the latter voice throughout this two-LP set. On all but four of 20 selections, Ben is backed by a string section arranged by Ralph Burns (except for "Chelsea Bridge" which was arranged by Billy Strayhorn) and, although clarinetists Tony Scott and Jimmy Hamilton and pianists Teddy Wilson and Hank Jones are heard from, the focus is otherwise entirely on the great tenor. The final four numbers, which matches Webster with Wilson in a stringless quartet, also stick to ballads. Music that is both beautiful and creative."
Scott Yanow -All Music Guide