Johnny Come Lately - Live in Groningen 1973
Dutch Jazz Archives
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IMPRESSIVE BEN WEBSTER ON A NEVER BEFORE RELEASED QUINTET PERFORMANCE!!!!
Dutch label Nederlands Jazz Archief has just presented a new CD containing a previously unissued complete club set by the immortal Ben Webster recorded live at De Koffer, Groningen, on February 2, 1973, that is, shortly before the saxophonist's death, which would take place on September 20 of that year.
While Webster was very ill in his last months, his playing never truly decayed, as is evident both in the recently reissued December 1972 concert set with Oscar Peterson and in this new album, on which he is backed by Dutch alto saxophonist Piet Noordijk (who died in 2011, these are his only existing recordings with Webster), pianist Irv Rochlin, bassist Rob Langereis, and drummer Tony Inzalaco. Inzalaco had also been the drummer for the aforementioned concert with Oscar Peterson.
According to the set's liner notes, "Ben Webster was in bad shape during his final years. He was fat, short of breath and drank more than was good for him. That this night turned out differently was probably thanks to the unexpected collaboration of hyper-energetic alto sax player Piet Noordijk. Webster got carried away by Noordijk and his blowing was more vigorous and inspired than was usual in his declining years."
The program offers no surprises for the Webster fan. It begins with the ubiquitous Ellington classics "Sophisticated Lady" and "Johnny Come Lately", the second, in fact, a Billy Strayhorn composition (Webster had been present on the original recordings of both of these tunes in the 1940s). The set also contains the ever present blues performance, and swing perennials "Sweet Georgia Brown" (first recorded by Webster in 1943) and "Just You, Just Me" (Webster didn't perform this song too often, and this is one of just three extant versions by him). Ballad time is filled with a version of "Old Folks", a song of which the tenor saxophonist was highly fond of, and which he had chosen to play in 1970 on a TV set, after being told of the death of his friend Johnny Hodges. This is another moving performance of the tune. The set ends with a reading of Miles Davis' "The Theme" in a spirited performance that rounds up a fine and previously unheard night by a true jazz giant.
The CD is accompanied by a nice 20-page booklet including both Dutch and English liner notes, as well as rarely seen photos and memorabilia.
BEN WEBSTER, tenor sax
PIET NOORDIJK, alto sax
IRV ROCHLIN, piano
ROB LANGEREIS, bass
TONY INZALACO, drums
Live at De Koffer, Groningen, February 2, 1973.
01. Sophisticated Lady
02. Johnny Come Lately
03. Sweet Georgia Brown
04. Slow Blues
05. Just You, Just Me
06. Old Folks
07. The Theme