Ben Webster

Tenor Giants

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AllMusic Review by

Coleman Hawkins was always Ben Webster's idol. They finally shared a record date on October 16, 1957, and it was reissued as half of this two-LP set. With the backing of the Oscar Peterson Trio plus drummer Alvin Stoller, Webster and Hawk match wits and ideas on seven standards and two of Hawkins's originals. Webster was really no match for the elder tenor (and he knew it), particularly harmonically (Hawk was a master of chords), but he had the advantage of a huge emotional tone. Although Hawkins wins honors, it is not a runaway. The second album also features the two tenor greats plus the tenor of Budd Johnson, trumpeter Roy Eldridge, and a four-piece rhythm section. Webster wrote three songs for the date (including tributes to Hawk and Budd), and there is a 20-minute version of "In a Mellow Tone" to wrap up the proceedings. The results are a deadheat except on "Time After Time" where Webster's beautiful sound is well-featured. Recommended.