A wonderful long and intimate vinyl session with Ben Webster.
* Ben Webster – The Warm Moods [TrackList follows] – With orch. arr. & cond. by Johnny Richards – Reprise (also Discovery) R9-2001 (1960)/ Pure Pleasure (2015) [11/6/15] *****:
What a sound! I had thought Stan Getz was my favorite saxist, but now I’m sure it’s Ben Webster. Having just spent nearly an hour with my best headphones, lying down and listening to this album, I feel there is no better sax player ever than Webster. The way he brings a warm and full sound to each and every note is unsurpassed by anyone. The unique breathy tone he achieves is like no other, and can be immediately identified as Ben Webster.
The fine arrangements and conducting by Johnny Richards also make this a winning album in any form, and especially on this superb 180-gram vinyl pressing from Pure Pleasure, which has absolutely no hint of surface noise, even on headphones. It’s interesting and very odd that the liner notes on the original release by Nat Hentoff don’t make the slightest mention of Johnny Richards. There are a couple paragraphs at the end which do list the personnel on the session and do mention Richards.
These are very skilled studio musicians who play completely in tune and whether Webster’s solos were added over the string section or recorded at the same time, they make a perfect pairing and sound completely natural, with no unlikely spotlighting of the sax nor annoying out-of-tune string playing – as on the Charlie Parker with Strings album.
Hentoff says in his notes “I’ve rarely known a man who loved music as fully and ceaselessly as Ben,” and that seems to sum up this wonderful album. Whether vinyl has a more believable sound than any of the digital formats, I think anyone will find this vinyl remastering fully worth its $40 cost. If you have a good turntable and dig this one, you might also like the vinyl of Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson, on the Wax Time remastered label.
The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi, Stella By Starlight, With Every Breath I take, Accent on Youth, But Beautiful, Time After Time, Nancy, I’m Beginning to See the Light, It was So Beautiful, The Whiffenpoof Song, It’s Easy to Remember, There’s No You