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15
4.7 out of 5 stars
Soulville
Format: Audio CDChange
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Big Ben has played with so many greats and at the tender age of 50 kind of came into his own here...His blues and his sound is pretty unique and distinguishable and he is valued as one of the top of his genre..

This CD has a lot of soul and indeed fits a smokey bar because some of the cuts are so bluesy sounding very Kansas City ...the sound he captures with "kings" such as Coleman Hawkins and "Sweets" Edison on other sides all coming out around this 2o year period smacks of a genre in Jazz history whose heart and emotions are very hard to match.

Lovely package,booklet and added tracks.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Absolutely beautiful music. Webster's tenor sax in his greatest decade. One of his best albums. What more can you ask for? Wonderful support from Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and company. Ten songs, four gorgeous ballads. The CD has three previously unreleased tracks not included on the original LP of Webster playing a fierce, nerve-jangling boogie-woogie style piano. They're of interest because it's Webster pounding the heck out of the keys but they don't really contribute to the otherwise sumptious beauty of the proceedings. The contents of the original LP is what you'd be buying this for, the first seven songs--Ben Webster at the summit of his art or one of the summits I should say for he attained this level of artistic achievement a number of times throughout the 50s.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
..............especially since all of the tracks, save the piano ones and "Late Date" appear in other Verve compilations as well ("Jazz Masters 43", "Ben Webster For Lovers", "Great Sax 'Jazz 'Round Midnight'", "Jazz 'Round Midnight" and "Quiet Now:Until Tonight").

The cd opens with two blues.....the first one,worth the price of the cd alone, is so beautifully late night........and the second more gutsy and honky tonk and showing Oscar's fantastic talents as a soloist but even more so, his willingness to lay back.

The next five selections are ballads by one of the finest practitioners of the form and are pure ecstasy. Also note the contributions of Herb Ellis and Ray Brown throughout the first seven tracks."Makin Whoopee" is an old, old standard which serves as an excellent example of the humor which can be depicted in good jazz.

The last three tracks feature Ben on the piano, his first instrument at an early age showing stride, boogie, and the type of stride which probably accompanied the pre-sound movies. These are not as important to me .....but would be to a collector since they represent (to my knowledge) the only recordings of Ben Webster playing the piano.

If you don't have any of these recordings, this is a definite 'must'! The blues and the sensational ballads alone make it well worth while!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This was the first Ben Webser LP I bought--at a used record store in Berkeley, CA in the early 1970's. I had no idea who Ben Webster was at the time--was just discovering jazz and I liked the album cover. Thirty years later there is not a week that goes by that I don't have Soulville on the turntable or in the CD player of my car. It might not be Ben Webster's best LP (King of the Tenors, maybe?) or his best playing (1939/40 with the Ellington band), but this record has more grit and tender, loving SOUL than any album I've ever owned. Sit back in your favorite chair, pour a snifter of your favorite libation, turn out all the lights, make sure nobody is home and prepare to get kicked right in the guts. One warning--don't play this LP if your wife or girlfriend has just walked out on you--it will bring you to tears. And Stan Levey, by the way, was Charlie Parker's regular drummer after Max Roach left and, along with Roy McCurdy is the best drummer I've heard live on a REGULAR basis. And the rest of the rythym section speaks for itself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
"Phrasing"... that's the difference here according to a sax-playing friend of mine who told me about Mr. Webster and his music. It's a technical term for how the player is working the reed in the mouthpiece and you would have to go a long ways to find someone more accomplished than Ben Webster in killing you with his sound - phrasing being a big part of it.

He was one of the big ballad players of the late 40's and 50's along with Coleman Hawkins, Gerry Mulligan and others. In the late 50's and early 60's, Bop and some other strains of Jazz got going and the ballad players were pretty much left in the dust by the hunger for a more contemporary sound. To me, this was a great loss to the Jazz loving community when these great players who did not adapt well to that style and were mostly shoved to the side. Welcome to the music biz, eh?

Some of Mr. Webster's sound here is that smooth tenor sax sound that so many people love, but on songs like Late Date, he trots out that dirty, smokey, strip joint kind of character and does it in a very catchy, swing beat style. Just marvelous.

Then, he goes right from that to Time On My Hands which is as nice a slow dance paced ballad as you'll hear. His sound here is almost totally different from the one just before it.... but it's just right.

At the time this album was recorded, these artists were playing quite a few LIVE gigs and they had to get and hold a crowd. If you weren't interesting and polished, you weren't asked back generally speaking. Your music had to work for the people who were listening to it, and that's one area where Ben Webster shines - his stuff works.

So if you're a fan of tenor sax music or of Jazz ballads, this one should go down about as smooth as 12-year old Scotch.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
A fine reissue of this 1957 session featuring Webster (ts, p), along with some of my favorite players: Oscar Peterson (p), Ray Brown (b), and Herb Ellis (g), along with Stan Levey (d) with whom I'm unfamiliar. Apparently Peterson, Brown and Ellis were together as a trio at this time. This CD adds three previously unreleased tracks to the original 7 and clocks in at a healthy 49+ minutes. The three bonus tracks represent the only known studio recordings featuring Webster on piano.
The tracks range from the smokey blues of the title track to more swinging upbeat numbers like "Late Date" (both Webster originals) to more romantic ballads such as "Time on My Hands." Webster's sax is incredibly compelling in all three contexts, and though I'm generally not a ballad fan, I find myself enjoying even the slower numbers. The blues and swing styles grab me more immediately, the ballads after a few listenings and at the right time of the day. Webster's piano on the three bonus tracks is in a sort of sloppy stride and boogie-woogie style, entertainingly not serious.
Herb Ellis' guitar playing ranges from quiet, melodic hollowbody sounds to scratchy, distorted electric blues. I almost wonder if some of the distortion is in the transfer (it sounds like tape saturation or clipping), though the rest of the instruments sound fine, so probably not. It's a great sound, though a bit unusual in this setting. Oscar Peterson's fills and support playing also makes the range with some great blues backings and a few excellent solo excursions. Levey's drumming is adequate, but doesn't really stand out (which maybe it needn't do in this company).
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Even back in 1957, saxophonist Ben Webster was somewhat of an anachronism. He'd made his start cutting heads on Kansas City's juke joint scene in the early 1930s, eventually landing touring spots with Coleman Hawkins, Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington's big band. In 1939, Webster assumed the tenor solo chair with Duke, and over the years honed a smooth but throaty tone that raised his stature in New York jazz circles and, capping a lauded performance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, finally brought him to the attention of executives at the Verve label. But by the time he went into the studio to record Soulville with the Oscar Peterson trio and drummer Stan Levey as his backing band, Webster was already nearing the age of 50, and younger bebop turks like Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane had eclipsed him in style and popularity.

Musically about as "inside" as inside can get, Soulville is still remarkable for its sheer poignancy as a testament to smoky lounges, lonely backwater hotels and all-night rumble seat rides to the next gig. Webster's natural grasp of the blues is what makes the whole session work-from the title track and the swinging "Late Date" to the pillowy ballad "Ill Wind"-while the tastefully restrained dynamics of Peterson (piano) and his cohorts (Herb Ellis on guitar and Ray Brown on bass) lift the eight-and-a-half-minute take of the standard "Lover, Come Back to Me" and the Kahn-Donaldson classic "Makin' Whoopee" into the upper reaches of what could almost be called "cool," in the Miles Davis sense. The Verve master edition contains three bonus oddities with Webster subbing for Peterson on piano (the instrument he first learned as a child, and it shows), but the real strength of Soulville resides in the subtle majesty of Webster's honey-dipped horn.-Bill Murphy
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Ben Webster was one of the most emotional tenor sax players in jazz, and his range of emotions was incredible. He could be feisty one minute, coy the next; gruff on one tune, profoundly lyrical on the next; conversational here, in-your-face there. All these feelings are on display in this excellent album.

Ben is at his most relaxed on the medium-tempo tunes (MAKIN' WHOOPEE and LOVER COME BACK TO ME). It's as if he's having a front porch conversation with you on any ol' thing, and on WHOOPEE he is even sly at times and winking, too. On very slow ballads (TIME ON MY HANDS and WHERE ARE YOU) he is pleading and mournful, tugging at the heartstrings.

He plays two blues here, one medium-tempo where his tone is gruff, the other slow, where he is lyrical and subtle. (Oscar Peterson is especially fine on the slow blues, the title track.) The contrasts in his playing are marvelous and keep him forever fresh. Three additional tracks from the session (10/15/57) appear on the CD that were not issued before and feature Ben on piano (he's better on tenor any day of the week). This is a CD definitely worth checking out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2006
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Ben Webster combines the intensity and arabesques of Coleman Hawkins with the gentleness and melodiousness of Lester Young. This 1957 disc reflects Webster at his personal peak and has some of the SEXIEST and most SOULFUL jazz anyone will ever hear. Webster's breathy and smoldering embrace on all these cuts leaves the listener yearning for more (and a bottle of Merlot)! And, when you've finished listening to "THE MAN" several times, try James Carter's 1995 disc, "The Real Quietstorm". Almost forty years have passed between these two recordings but Carter has definately been weaned on Webster.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This must be part of your collection, especially if you are interested in Ben Webster. It gets better each time I listen to it; Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis and Ben Webster are just great together. Don't hesitate, pick it up, you'll love it!
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