Warren Webb started out as one of a group of big band leaders working out of Omaha in the '30s. Groups such as his have been classified as "territory" bands, because the band's activity was limited to a certain geographical area, in this case Nebraska and environs. Webb's band, however, eventually was trounced by other new music groups coming to this area, especially the band of Nat Towles. In the recollections of saxophonist Buddy Tate, as provided in an oral history for the Jazz Institute of Chicago, "There were about four big black bands in Omaha besides ours -- Lloyd Hunter's Serenaders, Red Perkins, Ted Adams, and Warren Webb. When we went to Omaha, we just cut them down to nothing." Well, not quite nothing. There was still enough left of Webb to carve out a fine career not as a leader, but as a session man, anonymously but skillfully adding reed parts to recordings by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Carmen McRae, and many others. Webb became one of those fellows who arrives at a session carting at least a half-dozen cases. He covered all the woodwind instruments, often playing tenor or alto saxophone but also taking on the extremely difficult oboe, whose players often spend every free hour carving their own reeds. Webb's activities also included performing on many film and television soundtracks. When this beautiful and evocative instrument shows up on a television show theme such as I Dream of Jeannie, chances are good that it is Webb playing. He also plays on several records by Doris Day and Dean Martin. Much less known, but of better musical quality, are his efforts on recordings under the leadership of Billy Eckstine, some of which also feature the great jazz singer Sarah Vaughan.
Share this page