Don Byas and Ben Webster – Ben Webster Meets Don Byas

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This early-’70s meeting between two giants of the tenor sax (both of whom by this time were living in Europe on a permanent basis) is full of memorable moments. The styles of Ben Webster and Don Byas provide a distinct contrast (though Byas was also a swing-influenced saxophonist, he was heavily into bop as well), yet they mesh very well together. On their opening improvised “Blues for Dottie Mae,” Webster’s big-toned swing tends to dominate, though Byas’ boppish lines dart around at lightning speeds; Tete Montoliu’s bluesy piano provides the perfect support. The roles are evened out a bit more on a swinging take of “Sunday.” The evenly matched tenor battle continues with a rousing “Perdido” and very swinging “Caravan.” Bassist Peter Trunk introduces Byas’ “Lullaby to Dottie Mae,” an easygoing reworking of the timeless ballad “Body and Soul,” which features a rapid-fire solo by Byas. Webster’s turn in the solo spotlight is his own ballad “When Ash Meets Henry,” in which he is accompanied only by Trunk’s well-chosen basslines. Also present on the date is drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath. Sadly, this LP was a bit of a swan song for both tenor saxophonists; Byas died in the year prior to its 1973 release, while Webster died the following year, though he taped at least one more album following this one (AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden ,

Track listing:

A1 Blues For Dottie Mae
A2 Lullaby To Dottie Mae
A3 Sundae
B1 Perdido
B2 When Ash Meets Henry
B3 Caravan


Ben Webster, Don Byas – tenor saxophone
Peter Trunk – bass
Albert Heath – drums
Tete Montoliu – piano


Recorded – Feb. 1, 2, 1968, MPS Studio, Villingen