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Soulmates

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 2, 1992
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 2, 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Riverside/OJC
  • ASIN: B000000Y6J
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #699,728 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Bomojaz on November 21, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Joe Zawinul, at the time this album was recorded, was the pianist with Cannonball Adderley's group. He was a modern stylist with an affinity for Third Stream music; he would later be a key member of the fusion group Weather Report. That he would record with Ben Webster is somewhat a mystery, but for the most part, the pairing works well.

It's a well-balanced program that the group plays (Richard Davis [b] and Philly Joe Jones [d] round out the quartet, with, another surprise, Thad Jones added on cornet on half the numbers; Sam Jones [b] repalces Davis on Thad's numbers). There are a couple of slow ballad features for Ben's mournful tenor (TOO LATE NOW and COME SUNDAY), and another medium-slow version of TRAV'LIN LIGHT where Ben plays about as sexy as I've ever heard him play. Webster's own THE GOVERNOR is taken up, and Ben puts on his gruff bear suit for this one. Zawinul has a nice solo on EVOL DEKLAW NI (read it backwards), and his composition FROG LEGS has a clever boppish theme.

Thad doesn't get much of a chance to do anything, and you wonder if maybe he was in the right place at the right time and got invited into the proceedings. This album didn't set the world on fire, but it's a respectable addition to both Ben and Joe's discography. Three of the tunes had alternates made available in the LP days, and it's a surprise they weren't put on here. Oh well.
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A Kid's Review on June 29, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Ben & Joe were housemates for a spell; hence this session isn't such a mystery. Thad Jones, in at the last minute, doesn't play a lot, but adds much when he does, and even gets a song of his own in. Some fine playing, although the strange reverb on Ben's horn takes some getting used to after hearing other albums - the sax sounds somehow distant. Not my favorite for listening straight through, but with enough merit to warrant checking out. Not your Weather Report nor Cannonball-style Zawinul, but some nice "lost in the archives" playing, especially when Thad sits in.
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Format: Audio CD
I second the notion that there is nothing odd about the pairing of Webster and Zawinul. From a historical viewpoint, this recording is a chance to hear jazz's past and future greats working together; from a musical perspective, it shows (once again) that across generations jazz musicians understand their own roots. So, the paring is a wonderful idea, particularly on "The Governor," which is tight and full of swinging bravado.

Once again, however, I find fault with production. As one of the reviewers suggests, on most of the tracks Zawinul's piano and the rest of the ensemble seem to be playing in two entirely different environments. While the piano is clear and "present" the horns, especially Webster's, seem to waft out of an alley window; meaning they sound cold, distant and flat. It is the oddest jazz recording I own, and the antithesis of Webster's true sound.

If you have enough room to collect albums that are more historically than aurally satisfying, this is a good one to have. You might want to pass it by if you are as well off simply knowing that these two great musicians once worked together.
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Format: Audio CD
Wow, what a band, and here's Ben at the tail end of a decade-long streak of great Lps (primarily for Verve in the 1950s, but extending into the early 1960s) playing in great form. So while this record beats several cut after he had moved to Europe for the final decade of his life, it is unfortunately marred by poor production decisions. Namely, Webster's majestic tone is put through an an analog delay--a 'slapback echo' of some kind--and it all but ruins several of the cuts on the disc. I'm actually a fan of putting a touch of reverb on a sax when it's being caressed by a master like Ben Webster (for example, on his "Soulville" album), but reverb and slapback echo are different things. Reverb or delay (used in moderation) can give a slightly "wet" a spacious quality that when done well sounds like the musicians are in a slightly cavernous space. Slapback echo, on the other hand, can cause a "doubling" of notes, where the echoed note comes a fraction of a second later than the original, and it can muddy the sound or just be distracting. (It can be used intentionally to good effect, as on the Elvis Presley vocal for "Heartbreak Hotel".) The echo is not applied equally on all tracks on this album, so some come off better than others. But "Come Sunday," for example, is ruined by it, and this Duke Ellington ballad was the kind of piece that Webster could turn into an effortless masterpiece. "The Governor" is likewise pretty much ruined by the echo. Even more strangely, on "Soulmates," Webster's horn sounds echo-y, while Thad Jones' trumpet seems to have a tasteful dab of reverb, not unlike what you'd hear on Miles Davis's trumpet on his Columbia records like Milestones and Kind of Blue.Read more ›
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