Young Turk tenor saxophonist James Carter gets the nod to curate this Ben Webster edition of Verve's fine Ultimate series. Avoiding the pitfalls of many a vintage jazz collection (too many popular performances), Ultimate Ben Webster features a nice mix of the expected ("Cotton Tail") and obscure ("I'll Be Back"). The majority here was cut during the bebop and hard bop eras, showcasing a player in his autumnal splendor. And, of course, ballads like "Time After Time," "Ill Wind," and "Tenderly" are the standouts, Webster's vaporously sensual tone in full flower. That's not to forget the all-star company on hand, which includes the likes of Coleman Hawkins, Hank Jones, and Roy Eldridge, among many others. A treat.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook