12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The best of the Ellington bands,
By A Customer
This review is from: Blanton-Webster Band (Audio CD)
Jimmy Blanton and Ben Webster transformed the Duke Ellington band. If the band was already the world's most sophisticated jazz ensemble, the addition of these two artists took it beyond mere sophistication, into a realm where style and art becomes indistinguishable.
Jimmy Blanton took the double bass out of its supportive background role into the forefront of the rhythm section, infecting the whole orchestra with an overpowering pulsating swing. No bass had ever had such a prominent, decisive role in any band, large or small. Ben Webster boasted one of the most instantly recognisable tenor saxophone sounds in the business: breathy, mellifluous, perpetually shaking with an impassioned romantic vibrato. He complemented the moody, velvety tone of Johnny Hodges' alto beautifully.
Most of the tunes are short, averaging around three minutes. Enduring highlights are "Ko Ko", "Cottontail" (note the swinging rapport between Blanton and Webster during the latter's solo), "Never No Lament" (with stunning solos from Johnny Hodges and Cootie Williams), "Concerto for Cootie", with fantastic playing from the trumpeter himself, "Rumpus in Richmond", "Sepia Panorama", "Blue Serge", a moody, melancholic piece, Billy Strayhorn's "Take the 'A' Train" of course, "The 'C' Jam Blues" and a host of others...There's over three hours of fantastic music.