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Rick Holland's Review

West Coast-based saxophonist Doug Webb continues to impress. For his fourth CD on the Posi-Tone label, Webb has the support of an East Coast rhythm section to match his intensity and creativity. Doug is based in the Los Angeles, which has not brought on the exposure on the national scene he would have had if either New York or Chicago was his home base.

Working out of the busy movie and television based LA scene, Webb had his days open for movie and television work, especially when he was working with Doc Severinsen‘s big band. Clint Eastwood recognized his talents, as he can be heard on the Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino soundtracks. I’ve especially dug Webb’s contributions to Bill Holman’s Big Band when I have been down in Los Angeles for the LA Jazz Institute theme weekends. Webb was always featured by Bill for memorable front line sax solos.

On his latest CD, Another Scene, half of the twelve tracks are written by Doug. “Mr. Milo” opens the CD with the melodic swing that Webb handles with such consistency. Playing only tenor this time out, Doug’s “One for Art” increases the intensity spurred on by the talented Rudy Royston on drums. Webb can switch effortlessly from mainstream lines to explore the outside range approaching the playing of the best post bop stylists, even bringing to mind a Coltrane freedom. Pianist Zak has a nice solo mid-track here.

“Smatter” cools down the vibe a bit, while Brubeck’s “Southern Scene” is strikingly beautiful. Clearly Doug can fit in everywhere, as a first call studio musician must. Jobim’s “Double Rainbow” has a sparkling theme aided again by Peter Zak, and the steady bottom end provided by Dwayne Burno, who is making quite a name for himself on numerous East Coast sessions.

Doug’s “Eulogy  has a spiritual motif that would be found between Coltrane and Tyner, while “Rhythm with Rudy” was written by Doug as a tune to interact with his drummer, as Rudy and Doug trade off lines. Vernon Duke’s “What is There to Say” shows Webb’s lyrical abilities to massage a lovely ballad.

Posi-Tone has another winning Doug Webb release on their hands. Hopefully, they can expand his horizons in the future with a few more horns to flesh out his compositions. I’d look forward to that…

Jeff Krow, Posi-Tone

Doug Webb‘s new album Another Scene ranks among the best from Posi-Tone, including Jared Gold’s organ albums, the Captain Black Big Band album and Ralph Bowen’s awesome Power Play  from a couple of years ago.  This one puts the LA tenor saxophonist out in front of a New York rhythm section with energy to match – you want intensity? You got it. Bill Frisell keeps Rudy Royston in his band because he is what he is, but this unit gives Royston the chance to cut loose in the studio like he does onstage in JD Allen‘s trio. He makes bassist Dwayne Burno‘s job easy. Pianist Peter Zak also gets plenty of opportunities to raise the voltage.

The opening track, Mr. Milo, is a briskly biting, syncopated Miles homage, Webb burning through the whole-tone scale, Zak hitting a similarly highwire intensity as he charges downward. One for Art – a homage to Webb’s late bassist bandmate Art Davis  – is a launching pad for a long, absolutely blistering run by Webb, Zak’s solo over impatient drums that turn loose explosively- and then the band goes back to swing as if nothing happened. OK…for a little while, anyway.

Kenny Wheeler’s Smatter gets a clenched-teeth, scurrying swing and more Royston being Royston – it calms, or at least focuses, from midway on. They do Dave Brubeck’s Southern Scene as a warmly cantabile ballad, Zak rippling over almost wry Royston cymbals, keeping it lush, Webb’s warm solo echoing a Paul Desmond dry martini elegance. Another Step sets Webb and Zak’s energetic hard-bop moves over a disarmingly simple swing; Jobim’s Double Rainbow works the tension between Webb’s balminess and the raw intensity of the rhythm section for all it’s worth. Royston’s cascading waves in tandem with Zak’s solo are absolutely luscious.

Eulogy takes awhile to get going, but springboards an absolutely haunted, wrenching tenor solo from the bandleader, contrasting with the lickety-split romp Rhythm with Rudy. The version of What Is There to Say here is a predictably long feature for Webb, while Verdi Variations playfully pilfers the opera book, both Webb and Zak attacking the themes with more agitation and fire than you would expect. They follow that with a sly, bouncy excursion through Thad Jones’ Bird Song and conclude with a warmly steady take of Benny Carter’s Trust  Your Heart. Webb has come a long way since his days voicing tv characters.

Lucid Culture


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