Ben Webster - In Hot House


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Release Date: 4/21/2023

Tenor saxophonist Ben Webster (born Kansas City, 1909) needs little introduction, Webster is regarded as one of the three foremost swing era tenor saxophonists - the two others being Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. His ballad playing and sound inspired such later fellow saxophonists as Archie Shepp, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. Webster became famous for his unique sound, quick tempos, his solos that contained great virile rhythmic momentum, a rasping timbre and an almost brutal aggressiveness filled with growl, while his ballad playing was breathy, tender and sensual. The list of his collaborations is long, Ben Webster worked, recorded and played with legends from the likes of Art Tatum, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Roy Eldridge and Dexter Gordon... but a dream came true when he was offered a permanent job in Duke Ellington's orchestra where his personal style matured. Webster stayed with Ellington until 1943, after which he formed his own groups and played with other small ensembles. From 1952 on he spent his time between Los Angeles and New York playing, freelancing and recording with a variety of soloists, among them high-profile singers like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae and Frank Sinatra. Despite excellent reviews of his albums, it was difficult for Webster to find steady work in the US during the early 1960's, and when in 1964 he got offered to play for a month in London he accepted and sailed to England. Webster never returned to the United States. In Europe he found plenty of work, playing residences in Scandinavia, settled in Amsterdam (1966-69) and then in Copenhagen (where he even has a street named after him). He toured frequently, playing in clubs and at big festivals with local bands or with visiting American musicians. Ben Webster suffered a stroke in Amsterdam in September 1973 following a performance in Leiden and died on September 20. Even when his health started to decline during his last years, his playing never did. To the last day Webster played with passion and intensity, delivering weight on every note. Webster is the subject of two renowned documentaries and two extensive biographies have been published about his legacy. Responsible for a plethora of excellent recordings he remains THE best-selling tenor saxophonist in jazz. Ben Webster was one of those unique jazz musicians whose presence came through on every recording (He recorded for prestigious labels including Verve, Impulse!, Prestige, Reprise, Blue Note... and countless others. On the album we are proudly presenting you today ('In Hot House' recorded at Leiden, May 1972) you will find mind-blowing rare Dutch sessions recorded at the Hot House club in Leiden. Hot House is one of the oldest jazz venues of The Netherlands (It has existed since 1969.) The album includes an international all-star line-up featuring Rob Langereis (Toots Thielemans), Eric Ineke (George Coleman) and Tete Montoliu (Rashaan Roland Kirk). Webster is in constant musical dialog with the rhythm section creating a unique back and forth with these musicians at the top of their game. Ben Webster played a total of three shows in Leiden, the first one dating back to 1967, then the recordings we are presenting you today (from 1972) and then the last one in 1973 (just two weeks before his untimely death). Needless to say the venue was packed with loyal fans... and the love an audience has for Webster can be clearly heard on this album. The musicians are constantly being fired up by a spirited crowd (almost making the audience a 5th bandmember). Tidal Waves Music now proudly presents the FIRST ever vinyl reissue of this fantastic album (originally released as a limited private pressing by the Dutch Ben Webster fan club society back in 1979). This unique record comes as a deluxe 180g vinyl edition (strictly limited to 500 copies) with obi strip and features the original artwork. Released exclusively for Record Store Day (UK/EUROPE) 2023 and available in participating stores on April 22, 2023.

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