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Ben Webster


Benjamin Francis Webster (March 27 1909–September 20 1973) was an influential American jazz tenor saxophonist.

Webster, born in Kansas City, Missouri, was considered one of the three most important "swing tenors" along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. He had a tough, raspy, and brutal tone on stomps (with his own distinctive growls), yet on ballads he would play with warmth and sentiment. Stylistically he was heavily indebted to Hawkins, particularly for his low, muscular tone and his vibrato. But Webster was also significantly different from his main influence in that his sound was sleeker, less aggressive, and much more spacious.

Webster learned to play piano and violin at an early age, before learning to play the saxophone. Once Budd Johnson showed him some basics on the saxophone, Webster began to play that instrument in the Young Family Band (which at the time included Lester Young). Webster spent time with quite a few orchestras in the 1930s (including Andy Kirk, Bennie Moten's legendary 1932 band that included Count Basie, Oran Page and Walter Page, Fletcher Henderson in 1934, Benny Carter, Willie Bryant, Cab Callowa...

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