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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster

Essential Jazz Classics EJC 55434



1. Blues For Yolande
2. It Never Entered My Mind
3. La Rosita
4. You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To
5. Prisoner Of Love
6. Tangerine
7. Shine On, Harvest Moon
8. Maria
9. Cocktails For Two
10. Blues For Yolande
11. La Rosita
12. Shine On, Harvest Moon
13. My Melancholy Baby
14. Where Are You
15. Ill Wind
16. Ill Wind
17. Blues For Yolande

Coleman Hawkins – Tenor sax
Ben Webster – Tenor sax
Oscar Peterson – Piano
Herb Ellis – Guitar
Ray Brown – Bass
Alvin Stoller – Drums (tracks 1-13, 15, 17)
Stan Levey - Drums (tracks 14, 16)


It may sound strange, but the first thing I noticed when I started to play this recording of two giants of the tenor saxophone, was the rhythm section. Oscar and the rhythm team provide the perfect support for any jazz player; his loss has left a hole in the jazz piano area, which is unlikely to be filled in the same way. That is not to say there are not many good jazz piano players about; there certainly are, but they are not Oscar.

The technique and invention of both Hawkins and Webster is out of the top drawer of tenor saxophone players. Ben is my personal favourite: his lighter, more breathy playing makes him the outstanding saxophone player of the era. Hawkins was also capable of more tender playing, which he sometimes uses on this recording, but his tone is generally heavier and less subtle.

Apparently no one seems to know exactly why it was decided to record them playing together; it seems to be an afterthought, when it was discovered that they both had recording sessions on the same day in the same place.

Some of the titles are not what I would have expected, but they certainly demonstrate the ability of both men to improvise on any theme! It is obvious that there was not a lot of planning prior to the session. With musicians of this calibre, a much more exciting programme could easily have been employed. Nevertheless the "Jazz Giant" status of both men was confirmed, with a rhythm section that never puts a foot wrong.

The music on the record was originally released on an LP, but on this CD several alternative takes are included as well as two tracks each from their separate sessions.

The real contrast between the two tenor players is most marked when you listen to the two tracks of Ill Wind. Hawkins is first up, then Webster. Ben has the much lighter and to my mind more expressive approach, but many may think that Hawkins had the greater technique. In the end it comes down to personal preference.

Favourite track: You’d be so Nice to Come Home To.

This is another piece of history worthy of any jazz collection.

Don Mather

See also review by Tony Augarde.

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