This outstanding DVD, recorded live at the Funkhaus, Hannover for a TV broadcast, on December 14, 1972, not only gives us the opportunity to listen to Webster, but far more rarely, to see him in performance, exquisitely backed by the Oscar Peterson Trio featuring the late Danish bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen & Tony Inzalaco, drums.
Webster and Peterson played together many times, and the tenor saxophonist often said that Oscar was his favorite accompanist.
Although an earlier CD added five previously unissued tracks to the original LP Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster, this Verve Master Edition two-CD set adds just about everything else recorded during the two sessions that produced the original record, and also features 20-bit sound. Even though Gerry Mulligan was outspoken against issuing material omitted from his original recordings, it is a treat to hear how the songs evolved in the studio. Webster and Mulligan seem mutually inspired throughout the sessions, and strong performances by pianist Jimmy Rowles, bassist Leroy Vinnegar, and drummer Mel Lewis are of considerable help.
The complete memorable recordings made by Billie Holiday in 1956-57 backed by a small group including Ben Webster, Harry Edison, Jimmy Rowles and Barney Kessel. A complete Holiday set recorded at Newport during the same period has been added as a bonus. Includes 16-page booklet.
The by turns grizzled and vaporous-toned Webster really hit his stride on the Verve label. During a stretch from roughly 1953-1959, the Ellington alumnus showcased his supreme playing with both combos and string sections, swingers and ballads – and lurking beneath his blustery and hulking sound were solo lines brimming with sophistication and wit. This 1957 date with the Oscar Peterson Trio is one of the highlights of that golden '50s run. After starting off with two bluesy originals – the slow burning title track and gutsy "Late Date" – Webster gets to the heart of things on five wistful ballads: Here, his exquisitely sly "Makin' Whoopee" is only outdone by an incredibly nuanced "Where Are You." Providing sympathetic counterpoint, Peterson forgoes his usual pyrotechnics for some leisurely compact solos; his cohorts – guitarist Herb Ellis, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Stan Levey – are equally assured and splendid.