Personnel: Ben Webster (tenor saxophone); Tete Montoliu (piano); Eric Peter (bass); Peer Wyboris (drums).
Recorded at Casino De L'Alianca Del Poblenou, Barcelona, Spain on November 28, 1972. Includes liner notes by Carlos Sampayo.
Ben Webster was just as much an anomaly as a man as he was a musician. Who would refuse to let Duke Ellington sit down at the piano at his own rehearsal? Who would also secretly try on all of Ellington's best suits, stretching them out in the process? Who would have a chance meeting with Joe Louis and punch him for fun? Ben Webster would. These stunts were not without reprisal--Webster was fired from Ellington's Orchestra, and took a swing from the boxing champ that landed him in hospital.
On GENTLE BEN, we hear him performing with Tete Montoliu's trio in a session recorded just 10 months before the tenor legend's death. One wouldn't know it from the quality of these performances, however. Highlights include his ballad work, especially tunes such as "The Man I Love" and "Don't Blame Me." His smoky tone and legato phrasing are still in full bloom on these selections, while other tunes, such as "Ben's Blues," show that he could still swing hard, even late in his career.