The definitive biography of the great tenor saxophonist Ben Webster
For a half century, Ben Webster, one of the "big three" of swing tenors—along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young—was one of the best-known and most popular saxophonists.
Early in his career, Webster worked with many of the greatest orchestras of the time, including those led by Willie Bryant, Cab Calloway, Benny Carter, Fletcher Henderson, Andy Kirk, Bennie Moten, and Teddy Wilson. In 1940 Webster became Duke Ellington's first major tenor soloist, and during the next three years he played on many famous recordings, including "Cotton Tail."
Someone to Watch Over Me tells, for the first time, the complete story of Ben Webster's brilliant and troubled career. For this comprehensive study of Webster, author Frank Büchmann-Møller interviewed more than fifty people in the United States and Europe, and he includes numerous translated excerpts from European periodicals and newspapers, none previously available in English. In addition, the author studies every known Webster recording and film, including many private recordings from Webster's home collection not available to the public.
Exhaustively researched, this is a much needed and long overdue study of the life and music of one of jazz's most important artists.
Cover photo by Jan Persson from a March 9, 1965, television performance
". . . thoroughly researched and comprehensively annotated. . . .Buchmann-Moller's comments about the recordings Webster made as he progressed are intelligent and even-handed, without hyberbolic blather, and he does not shy away from his subject's dark side. . . . what does come through is a genuine admiration and affection for his subject, who emerges from these pages as a complete human being. . . ."
". . . contains a wealth of lore and fact. . . . Admirably researched, informative, and lucidly and lovingly written. . . . [T]he type of book the reader is likely to take down from the bookshelf time and time again. . . ."
"[a] painstaking reconstruction of Webster's personal life and musical career …. [Büchmann-Møller's] account of Webster's final days in Europe, based largely on newly translated documents and interviews … provides some of the most valuable and poignant material in the book."
". . .an impressively detailed portrait . . ."
"[Büchmann-Møller] presents an extremely comprehensive chronicle of Webster's musical life and much of his personal life . . . [If] you want to find out more about one of jazz's most distinctive voices, Someone to Watch Over Me is a rich resource."
—All About Jazz
Winner of the 2007 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Certificate of Merit for Best Research in Recorded Jazz Music
*Addition to the Appendix: 1958, July 17, New York, NY, recording session with Mundell Lowe.
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