Ben Webster Meets Oscar Petersonby Oscar Peterson Trio
Another fine Webster release on Verve that sees the tenor great once again backed by the deluxe Oscar Peterson Trio. In keeping with the high standard of their Soulville collaboration of two years prior, Webster and the trio -- Peterson is joined by bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen -- use this 1959 date to conduct a clinic in ballad playing. And while Soulville certainly ranks as one of the tenor saxophonist's best discs, the Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson set gets even higher marks for its almost transcendent marriage of after-hours elegance and effortless mid-tempo swing -- none of Webster's boogie-woogie piano work to break up the mood here. Besides reinvigorating such lithe strollers as "Bye Bye Blackbird" (nice bass work by Brown here) and "This Can't Be Love," Webster and company achieve classic status for their interpretation of the Sinatra gem "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning." And to reassure Peterson fans worried about scant solo time for their hero, the pianist lays down a healthy number of extended runs, unobtrusively shadowing Webster's vaporous tone and supple phrasing along the way. Not only a definite first-disc choice for Webster newcomers, but one of the jazz legend's all-time great records.
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