Doug Webb – Midnight – Posi-Tone PR 8070, 52:19 ****:
(Doug Webb, saxophones; Larry Goldings, piano; Stanley Clarke, bass; Gerry Gibbs, drums; with special guests: Joe Bagg (tracks 1 & 4) and Mahesh Balasooriya, (track 5) – piano)
Both Los Angeles and New York City have many jazz musicians who remain largely a secret to the public as they remain mostly in the background, playing on studio sets for television and movies. They certainly are known to band leaders who know they can be counted on as true veterans who leave their egos at the door.
Such is the case with LA-based tenor saxophonist Doug Webb. Doug’s resume includes fifteen years with Doc Severinson’s Tonight Show band, as well as movie work for Clint Eastwood on Million Dollar Baby, and Gran Torino. He has appeared on over 500 recordings for legends like Freddie Hubbard, Quincy Jones, and Horace Silver. His soprano sax is heard on the Law and Order theme song. I’ve been fortunate enough to hear him play tasty solos for the Bill Holman Big Band. He has an old school tone that is just right for ballads and swingers alike.
Posi-Tone Records continues their winning streak by having Doug record as a leader on Midnight, just released this month. As usual for Posi-Tone, they surround their leaders with exemplary sidemen; in this case Larry Goldings, on piano, the inimitable Stanley Clarke on bass, and Gerry Gibbs (the son of legendary vibist, Terry Gibbs), on drums. Song selection is largely standards such as “Fly Me to the Moon,” “You Go to My Head,” “Crazy She Calls Me,” and the exquisite “Emily” from Johnny Mandel, where Webb’s soprano would melt the hardest heart. Clarke’s bass solo here, as well, adds to the tender affect.
Highlights abound and include Larry Goldings’ accompaniment with Webb’s silky emoting on “I’ll Be Around”; a Getzian reading of “Fly Me to the Moon”; and a soprano sax workout on “The Boy Next Door” where Stanley Clarke also shines. Bird’s “Quasimodo” is taken at a mellow pace and the rhythm section gets locked into a groove that shows the mixing engineer talents of David Horner.
If the eight tracks on Midnight are not enough to sell an astute listener, every Simpsons fanatic has to have a CD from the man who plays the saxophone of cartoon character/jazz fan, Lisa Simpson. Damn, I knew the girl had soul, it’s just that it belongs to saxophonist extraordinaire, Doug Webb….
TrackList: Try a Little Tenderness, I’ll Be Around, Fly Me to the Moon, You Go to My Head, The Boy Next Door, Crazy She Calls Me, Quasimodo, Emily
– Jeff Krow