Ben Webster: Whispering in his Sweetheart’s Ear

Portrait of Ben Webster, Bengasi, Washington, D.C., ca. May 1946. William P. Gottlieb, photographer.

Portrait of Ben Webster, Bengasi, Washington, D.C., ca. May 1946. William P. Gottlieb, photographer.

Ben Webster, one of the great tenor saxophonists, was born March 27, 1909 in Kansas City, Missouri.  Along with bassist Jimmy Blanton, Webster helped form one of the most celebrated incarnations of the Duke Ellington orchestra. From 1940-1942,  the Blanton-Webster band recorded such Ellington classics as “Cotton Tail,” “Chelsea Bridge,” and, of course, “Take the ‘A’ Train. ” Biographer Jeroen deValk wrote of Webster’s “warm, sensual sound …  it was like he was whispering something in his sweetheart’s ear.” Remember Ben Webster with photographs from the William P. Gottlieb Collection in American Memory.

2 Comments

  1. dakotayellowred
    March 28, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Ben, Coleman Hawkins,Lester Young, three great sax tenor voice

  2. Captain John
    March 29, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Happy birthday Mr. Webster! Even though I’m from the subsequent generation, I still hear “Take the A-Traiin” in my head, bringing back fond memories of the hustle and bustle of NYC. I used to ride that train every day. Thank God for music and musicians.

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