Gentle Ben – Ben Webster & Tete Montoliu

Finally writing about Jazz again

I’ve been a bit disappointed by the Jazz releases of the recent months, I’ve been checking out pretty much every new album on my streaming service, but there weren’t a lot of new albums that raised my curiosity.

So let’s go back to the classics and talk about two not very well-known artists that both were outstanding musicians.

Ben Webster 

If you ask Jazz fans about well-known Sax players, you get Bird, Rollins, Coltrane. Does anybody mention Webster? Yes, when you ask them, but he’s clearly not top of mind.

This is really a pity. He has a very unique sound, full, with a lot of “air”. I’m not usually very good at identifying saxophone players at their sound, but Webster is very easily recognizable.

He is as much at ease in uptempo as he is in beautiful ballads.

I could have mentioned several Ben Webster albums here, e.g. Ben Webster Meets Oscar PetersonColeman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster, or Soulville, all classic Verve albums from the late 1950s.

However, I’ve chosen another one, recorded in 1973, one of his very last albums. Why?

Tete Montoliu

Well, to allow me to write about Tete Montoliu, another not as well-known musician, from Barcelona. No idea why this excellent piano player didn’t become more famous? Maybe because his main career was in the 1970s, when everybody was listening to Fusion?

Gentle Ben

Ben Webster Tete Montoliu Trio Gentle Ben

Whatever the reasons were, this album is proof that both artists were outstanding musicians.

Take the starter track, Ben’s Blues. 9 minutes of pure concentrated swing.

The Man I Love is one of my favorite Jazz ballads. I’ve rarely heard it better played than here. You really can hear Billie Holiday in his saxophone voice.

Or Don’t Blame Me, another beautiful slow ballad, where you get all the nuances of Websters amazing sound.

This album really is a lot of fun all the way.

My rating: 4 stars

You can still download it here (Qobuz), unfortunately, my favorite download and streaming provider seems to be in major financial trouble and may not be around any more in the near future, which would be a pity.