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  REVIEWS for Fast Friends

Doug Webb is an L.A.-based saxophonist I’ve been listening to for several years. In addition to steadily pumping out albums (nine in eight years for Posi-Tone, including this one), he does a lot of work on TV and movie soundtracks. He was the saxophonist on the Law & Order theme, and he was the saxophone “voice” of Lisa Simpson. On this album, his band includes trombonist Michael Dease, pianist Mitchel Forman, bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Roy McCurdy, who’s 81 but hits like a 22-year-old. In addition to some original pieces, they play tunes associated with legendary saxophonists Charlie Parker and Lee Konitz, and pieces by trumpeters Lee Morgan and Dizzy Gillespie. This version of “High Groove, Low Feedback” is a tribute to tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, who was one of Blue Note’s most popular artists in the 1950s and 1960s but who doesn’t really get his due these days: he was more concerned with melody and bluesy improvisation than deep exploration like John Coltrane or Wayne Shorter, but his music is a blast to listen to. The band digs into the bouncing, strutting melody here, and McCurdy gets a powerful drum break toward the end.

Phil Freeman, Ugly Beauty: The Month In Jazz - September 2018

There is nothing as soul cleansing as bebop. Period. When you couple the music with the sunshine of Los Angeles (OK, when the smog has cleared) there is a medicinal, tonic effect to be had. Enter L.A. session saxophonist Doug Webb, a contributor to film and television, and member of big bands led by Bill Holman, Doc Severinsen, and Don Menza. Fast Friends is his eighth release for Positone. His previous disc, Bright Side (2016) featured trumpeter Joe Magnarelli, guitarist Ed Cherry and organist Brian Charette. Before that there were sessions with saxophonists Walt Weiskopf and Joel Frahm, and Stanley Clarke, Larry Goldings, and Rudy Royston, to name just a few. The above names attest to the attraction Webb's sound and sessions produce.

Mark Corroto, All About Jazz

Tenor saxophonist Doug Webb is back for his eighth release as a leader on the Posi-Tone label, a solid winner of a set on which he plays a variety of standards and originals at the head of a quintet that also features the brilliant trombonist Michael Dease, pianist Mitchel Forman, bassist Chris Colangelo, and drummer Roy McCurdy. In addition to bebop standbys like “Ah-Leu-Cha” and “Night in Tunisia” (the latter in an arrangement that, against all odds, actually sheds new and fresh light on that moldiest of bop chestnuts), there are also Webb’s lovely tribute to John Coltrane (“Last Trane to Georgia”), a gorgeous account of Lee Konitz’s Latin-flavored “Dream Stepper,” and a sweet and gentle rendition of the Jules Styne classic “The Things We Did Last Summer.” It’s hard to pick out highlights, though, as the album is so consistently first-rate. For all jazz collections.

Rick Anderson, CD HotList

This is a strong and well produced album of modern mainstream jazz featuring Doug Webb on tenor saxophone, Michael Dease on trombone, Mitchel Forman on piano, Chris Colangelo on bass and Roy McCurdy on drums. They play tightly arranged versions of originals and jazz standards with energy and wit, beginning with "Last Train to Georgia" which has a bright full band melody, setting a medium uptempo propelling the tenor saxophone to break out for a sunny sounding solo with a pleasant tone, followed by smoothly articulated trombone. The cohesive rhythm section plays well, adding to the flow of the music with its confident nature. The uptempo "Friends Again" has fast flurries of notes propelling the music forward, spotlighting nimble trombone playing in an extended and impressive solo over bubbling rhythm then ceding to the leader's saxophone that carves up the music, playing a very fast and focused improvisation. "High Groove" uses the deep connection of the band to create a large pocket that allows them to come together in a bluesy sound that percolates at a relaxed medium pace, gracefully elaborating on the hard bop concept, with crisp short solo statements. There is fast paced energy at play on "Surfing the Webb" with tight interplay of instruments in the theme and then plenty of space for the leader to stretch out and solo, using the bebop vocabulary as a basis for an excellent tenor saxophone solo. Not to be outdone, there is a sparkling trombone section in response, aided by strong piano, bass and drums, before everyone trades short phrases to close the piece. "Ah-Leu-Cha" is a Charlie Parker song well suited for this unit to create a fine presentation of, playing with confidence and wit, blustery trombone and shiny saxophone adding solos to a firm foundation of piano, bass and drums. The trombonist is appropriately featured on "Dease Things" a fast paced vehicle for quicksilver soloing from Webb, who employs a light and nimble tone and the trombonist who has a little more grit in his approach and uses it well in a memorable feature. After a rippling piano solo, the music comes together with a strong and rapid fire conclusion. They hit another bebop standard  on "A Night in Tunisia" with the trombone brashly intoning the melody as the rhythm section roils beneath him, leading to a solid saxophone solo that connects bop to the modern jazz of today.

Tim Niland, Music and More


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