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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

Ben Webster


BLUE Classic Line sabam crescendo 7261



  1. Chelsea bridge
  2. Rain Check
  3. Perdido
  4. What Am I Here For?
  5. Main Stem
  6. Sepia Panorama
  7. Cotton Tail
  8. All Too Soon
  9. Conga Bravo
  10. Bojangles
  11. My Greatest Mistake
  12. Chloe
  13. Blue Serge
  14. Just A –Sittin’ and A-Rockin’
  15. Five O’clock Drag

The Duke Ellington Orchestra
Duke Ellington – Piano
Jimmy Blanton – Bass
Fred Guy – Guitar
Wallace Jones, Rex Stewart, Cootie Williams – Trumpet
Tricky Sam Nanton, Lawrence Brown, Juan Tizol – Trombone
Johnny Hodges, Otto Hardwick, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Harry Carney – Saxes.

This is an excellent example of the music of the Ellington Band of 1940/41, it had excellent soloists, one of who was Ben Webster and his brief solos on each track are a delight. What is confusing is why this was issues as a portrait of Ben Webster. It should have been entitled a portrait of the Duke Ellington Orchestra 1940/41. Ben was responsible for 8 of the tunes, but even that doesn’t justify the title.

Ben Webster had a magnificent and instantly identifiable sound on the tenor, but so did Johnny Hodges on Alto and Harry Carney on Baritone. It was part of what Duke’s band was about a similar thing can be said of the soloists from the other sections. It was great to hear again tunes like Chelsea Bridge, Rain Check, What Am I Hear For? and Sittin’ and a Rockin’ and those of us who complain about the complexity of some modern sax soli passages should listen to the ones on this album!

Each track is a little gem, the 3 minute time limit on the 78rpm certainly made the musicians think really hard about what to put in their 4, 8 or 12 bars, rarely more. This record is highly recommended as a fine example of this particular Ellington Band………Pity about the title!

Don Mather


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