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

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Ben & Teddy

Sackville SKCD2-2056



1. Stompin' at the Savoy

2. I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling/Ain't Misbehavin'

3. Honeysuckle Rose

4. Shiny Stockings

5. Take the "A" Train

6. Flying Home

7. In a Mellotone

8. Star Dust

9. Ben's Blues

10. I Can't Give You Anything but Love

11. Sunday

Ben Webster - Tenor sax (tracks 7-11)

Teddy Wilson - Piano

Isla Eckinger - Bass

Peter Giger - Drums


This recording was made at the "National" in Bern, Switzerland, in 1970 but it was only dug out from the archives in 2001. Despite the title, Ben Webster only appears halfway through the CD. The first half of the album consists of Teddy Wilson leading a piano trio.

Ben and Teddy had often played together before. They both arrived in New York in 1934 and played in the Willie Bryant band. Webster was the main attraction in a band which Teddy Wilosn formed in 1939, although it only lasted for a year. Perhaps it failed because, as Teddy Weilson admitted, "I just play music and I don't have any talent as an entertainer".

In fact Wilson was being over-modest, as his playing had been an integral part of Benny Goodman's small groups, and he had also led some historic sessions in a pick-up band accompanying Billie Holiday. That band included Ben Webster.

The opening track is Stompin' at the Savoy, not Christopher Columbus as it says on the sleeve. Teddy Wilson seems more vigorous here than he had done in some earlier sessions, where elegance was the hallmark of his playing. This may be down to the influence of his bassist and drummer, who add dynamism to the proceedings. Bassist Isla Eckinger supplies a firm bass, while Peter Giger's drumming add sparks to the whole album. Giger's drum breaks in Stompin' at the Savoy, Honeysuckle Rose and Flying Home are remarkably assured and thrillingly rhythmic.

When Webster comes in for the last five tracks, his gritty tenor makes a pleasing contrast with Teddy Wilson's more introverted style. In fact they sometimes appear to swap styles, with Ben resorting to his gloriously breathy tone and Teddy being more assertive. Teddy's introduction to Star Dust is very reminiscent of his sound with the Benny Goodman small groups, and Ben ends the tune with a deliciously exploratory cadenza.

The whole session only lasts for about 52 minues but it is a delightful meeting of two (no, four) top-notch musicians enjoying one another's company. And the recording is brilliantly clear, with just the right amount of echo to remind you that this is a live concert.

Tony Augarde

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