REVIEWS for MIDNIGHT
Unless you're from Los Angeles, California, the name Doug Webb
may not jump out at you. Born in Chicago, Webb was raised in
Southern California, where he lives today. A veteran of the Horace
Silver Quintet, Webb has performed arid recorded with numerous
jazz and pop artists. Besides fronting his own quartet, Webb
plays with a variety of small groups in L.A., and is a member of the
big bands of Bill Holman and Steve Huffsteter. In addition, Webb
remains active in the studios in Hollywood playing for T. V.
The two recordings here were recorded on the same date with
the same personnel, but have been released separately. The
rhythm section consists of Stanley Clarke(bass), Gerry Gibbs
(drums), Joe Bagg, Larry Goldings and Mahesh Balasooriya
(all sharing piano duties on various tunes). Webb, whose main
solo voice is tenor, plays alto and soprano saxophones as well.
Both recordings are designed as "blowing dates," giving Webb
and company plenty of time to exercise their solo chops. The
music consists entirely of standard andjazz standard tunes.
Renovations begins with the Ellington/Strayhorn anthem, Satin
Doll. Taken at a medium-up clip, you hear Webb's big, open,
clear sound and aggressive style right from the first notes.
The influence of John Coltrane can be heard as Webb begins
playing through the altered/chromatjc harmonies of the tune.
Completely at ease with the language of bebop and its' subsidiaries,
Webb weaves his lines in and around the changes, and
additionally takes the "Sheets of Sound" approach.
Arthur Schwartz's Then I'll Be Tired of You is up next, this
time with Webb playing alto. His sound is dark and more
mellow than you might expect, partially due to the fact that he
prefers to playa straight alto. The tune is taken at a "business
man's bounce," with nice solos by the leader as well as
Goldings. The Vernon Duke classic, I Can't Get Started, gets
a harmonic overhaul, a la the Coltrane reworking of But Not
For Me and Body and Soul. Webb has a good time bobbing and
weaving around the altered harmony.
Webb's first outing on soprano comes with Bluesette, by Toots
Thielemans. The tempo is medium-up and Webb is in your
face, taking no prisoners here.
On Midnight, Webb plays the beautiful Alec Wilder tune, I'll
Be Around. Played as a sultry ballad, Webb sings the melody
on tenor with a warm, round sound. Again, pretty solos by
Goldings and the leader. From the movie Meet Me in Saint
Louis, the cats play The Boy Next Door. The groove is a medium-
up-tempo jazz waltz with Webb on soprano. His soprano
sound is round and fat, and his lines are melodic with just the
right amount of attitude. Good piano solo by Balasooriya.
As a departure from the rest ofthe recording, Webb plays
a great, not too often heard tune, You Go To My Head. The
departure comes from the fact that the format is a duo with
alto and piano. The pianist is a little known treasure 'from Los
Angeles, by the name of Joe Bagg. The two musicians play in a
medium tempo as effortlessly as you please, turning in a most
Getting back to the quartet, Webb and company pay homage
to Charlie Parker with Quasimodo. Instead of playing the tune
on alto as you might expect, the crafty Mr. Webb plays soprano
instead. The tempo is a medium tempo swing, and the cats get
a nice relaxed feel going. Good solid solos by Webb, Goldings
If you are not familiar with Doug Webb's playing, these two
recordings provide an excellent view of his musical sensibilities.
Check him out.
—Billy Kerr, Saxophone Journal, Juliy/August 2011 issue
"It's so good, I was left babbling in wonderment, speechless, and mesmerized."
— Johnny Mandel on Webb's rendition of his song "Emily".
One of the best saxophonists on the scene today is Doug Webb. Webb always produces a vibrant, zesty sound on his tenor and soprano saxes. His new CD is magnificent and includes eight selections, all pretty well-known tunes. The quartet includes Larry Goldings (piano), Stanley Clarke (bass), Gerry Gibbs (drums) and Webb (saxophones), with special guest pianists Joe Bagg on tracks 1 & 4 and Mahesh Balasooriya on track 5. I like every tune on the CD. Each offers true jazz music, relaxes the listener and is better with every listen!
Starting off is "Try a Little Tenderness," building on a nice melody, then creating smooth interplay with solos from Webb and Bagg. Alec Wilder’s lovely ballad, "I’ll Be Around," provides peaceful time. Some great listening is provided by both "Fly Me to the Moon" and "You Go to My Head." "The Boy Next Door" is very alive; Webb’s saxophone on this gem is marvelous and Balasooriya’s piano work sets the bar high.
The rest of the quartet plays relaxed throughout the recording. In "Crazy She Calls Me," Clarke produces an outstanding bass solo that defines the entire tune. Parker’s "Quasimodo" develops quickly into the normal blues mode that he wrote for many of his famous compositions. The quartet blends wonderfully on Johnny Mandel’s "Emily." Gibbs’s drumming is eloquent and quietly distinctive with the quartet and Webb’s delicious sax sound to peacefully close off this excellent CD.
—Glann A. Mitchell, L.A. Jazz Scene, November 2010 issue
If we told you what character saxophonist Doug Webb plays on tv, that would be distracting. His new album Midnight is probably a lesser-paying situation but it’s just as fun (more about that later). Webb is pretty ubiquitous on the West Coast and has played with everybody: Freddie Hubbard, Quincy Jones, Horace Silver and many others. The setup behind him is interesting: Larry Goldings on piano rather than organ, Stanley Clarke on upright bass instead of electric and Gerry Gibbs adding counterintuitive, understated flash behind the kit. This is a fun session, pure and simple, a bunch of pros prowling familiar terrain: most of the time they achieve a nocturnal, oldschool West Coast cool, but when the good times spill over they ride the energy for all it’s worth.
Try a Little Tenderness breathes some fresh bubbles into a piece that gets flat quickly since everybody plays it. I’ll Be Around (the pop standard, not the Howlin’ Wolf classic) has a swing wide enough to get a Mack truck through and a genuinely gorgeous, starry Goldings solo. Gibbs works Fly Me to the Moon as a subtle shuffle beneath Webb’s mentholated, opening tenor solo and Goldings’ more expansive spotlight. And it’s cool hearing Clarke, probably the last person you’d expect to get a Ray Brown impression out of, do it with a grin.
You Go to My Head gets a gently pulsing alto-and-piano duo treatment with Joe Bagg on the 88s. The Boy Next Door, with Mahesh Balasooriya on piano, has Clarke seizing more territory as he typically does, Gibbs all too glad to jump in and go along for the ride. Webb’s warm, lyrical alto work sets the stage for another glistening gem of a solo from Goldings on Crazy She Calls Me. They take Charlie Parker’s Quasimodo and set it up straight, Goldings’ unselfconscious geniality giving way to Webb to take it into the shade and then joyously out again. They close with Emily, by Johnny Mandel (who has raved about Webb’s version), a clinic in nuance on the part of the whole quartet, poignancy through a late-evening mist, an apt way to close this very smartly titled album. It’s out now on Posi-Tone. Oh yeah - Doug Webb plays Lisa Simpson’s sax parts on tv. There is a slight resemblance.
If one is truly judged by the company they keep, then saxophonist Doug Webb is immediately well thought of, even before hearing his music. While Midnight marks his recorded debut as a leader, he's performed and/or recorded with a long list of jazz greats, including Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard and Billy Higgins, and appeared on over 150 jazz recordings. Though Webb isn't a household name, millions of people have heard his solos on the soundtracks for Clint Eastwood-directed films like Mystic River (2003) and Gran Torino (2008).
He brings his vast experience and alluring saxophone sound to the fore on this program of standards, with some support from top-notch players like bassist Stanley Clarke and pianist Larry Goldings. While every performance is well-crafted, Webb really seems to work best in ballad settings. His relationship with the piano is key to the success of these mellow performances. Webb and Goldings seem to complete each other's thoughts on "I'll Be Around," and the saxophonist is left alone to work things out without distraction with pianist Joe Bagg on "You Go To My Head." "Crazy She Calls Me" is another relaxed performance, though Clarke's solo adds some fireworks.
"Fly Me To The Moon" is given a gentle Brazilian treatment, with drummer Gerry Gibbs locking in the groove and holding things together when the steady melodic flow of the song dissolves, putting Clarke in the spotlight for a bit. While Webb manages to insert a few lively performances into the mix, as on the album opener "Try A Little Tenderness" and the waltzing interpretation of "The Boy Next Door"-featuring a killer solo from Mahesh Balasooriya on his only album appearance-the saxophonist returns to ballad territory to end things with a beautiful take on Johnny Mandel's "Emily." Gibbs is as supportive as ever, with his brushes controlling the time, as Webb, Clarke and Goldings deliver some A+ solo work. While it's tough to stand out with a standards-only record, Webb's solid saxophone work and the presence of some of jazz's best players help Midnight rise to the top.
—Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz
Saxophonist Doug Webb leads a superb quartet on Midnight, creating a late-night atmosphere with a hint of nostalgia on a range of classic tunes.
Webb's career stretches back for 30 years and includes work with some of the finest jazz musicians, including Bud Shanks, Horace Silver and Freddie Hubbard, as well as leading rock and pop acts including Rod Stewart. Midnight sees Webb joined by an equally talented rhythm section; the result is a true ensemble performance with every musician given the opportunity to stretch out and put their own individual stamp on the recording.
Bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Gerry Gibbs hold down the rhythmic center of the music with an inventive enthusiasm. Clarke, in particular, seems to relish his role in the traditional acoustic lineup, playing with verve. Their command of the rhythm is total, providing space and opportunity for the pianists to take on more of a lead role as well as delivering some exceptional solos.
The tunes may be familiar, but the quartet makes each one sound fresh, even when playing them in what might be termed the "standard" fashion. Alec Wilder's "I'll Be Around" finds Webb playing in a style reminiscent of fellow tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton, the solos by Webb and pianist Larry Goldings are rich and warm. By contrast, "Try a Little Tenderness," usually performed as a ballad by artists such as Otis Redding, is delivered in a swinging, up-tempo, style with a terrific tenor solo from Webb.
Clarke's solos on "Crazy She Calls Me" and Charlie Parker's "Quasimodo" are positive, precise and affecting-album highlights. He also takes the spotlight on Bart Howard's "Fly Me to the Moon." The arrangement is rather bland to that point, but Clarke's performance is an object lesson in how to play a bass solo to complement the mood of a tune. Goldings' bell-like piano chords on the closing bars of the tune are an inspired and delightful ending. "You Go To My Head" is a piano and saxophone duet, with pianist Joe Bagg playing on this tune, in a more angular and percussive contrast to Goldings elsewhere on the disc, and works exceptionally well in underpinning Webb.
The third of the album's pianists, the young Sri Lankan Mahesh Balasooriya, joins the band for "The Boy Next Door," and brings yet another distinctive style to the group. Closer to Bagg's technique than Goldings, his chordal playing is economical and unselfish, and gives Gibbs the chance to create some inventive drum patterns.
—Bruce Linsay, All About Jazz
Both Los Angeles and New York City have many jazz musicians who remain largely a secret to the public as they remain mostly in the background, playing on studio sets for television and movies. They certainly are known to band leaders who know they can be counted on as true veterans who leave their egos at the door.
Such is the case with LA-based tenor saxophonist Doug Webb. Doug’s resume includes fifteen years with Doc Severinson’s Tonight Show band, as well as movie work for Clint Eastwood on Million Dollar Baby, and Gran Torino. He has appeared on over 500 recordings for legends like Freddie Hubbard, Quincy Jones, and Horace Silver. His soprano sax is heard on the Law and Order theme song. I’ve been fortunate enough to hear him play tasty solos for the Bill Holman Big Band. He has an old school tone that is just right for ballads and swingers alike.
Posi-Tone Records continues their winning streak by having Doug record as a leader on Midnight, just released this month. As usual for Posi-Tone, they surround their leaders with exemplary sidemen; in this case Larry Goldings, on piano, the inimitable Stanley Clarke on bass, and Gerry Gibbs (the son of legendary vibist, Terry Gibbs), on drums. Song selection is largely standards such as "Fly Me to the Moon," "You Go to My Head," "Crazy She Calls Me," and the exquisite "Emily" from Johnny Mandel, where Webb’s soprano would melt the hardest heart. Clarke’s bass solo here, as well, adds to the tender affect.
Highlights abound and include Larry Goldings’ accompaniment with Webb’s silky emoting on "I’ll Be Around"; a Getzian reading of "Fly Me to the Moon"; and a soprano sax workout on "The Boy Next Door" where Stanley Clarke also shines. Bird’s "Quasimodo" is taken at a mellow pace and the rhythm section gets locked into a groove that shows the mixing engineer talents of David Horner.
If the eight tracks on Midnight are not enough to sell an astute listener, every Simpsons fanatic has to have a CD from the man who plays the saxophone of cartoon character/jazz fan, Lisa Simpson. Damn, I knew the girl had soul, it’s just that it belongs to saxophonist extraordinaire, Doug Webb....
—Jeff Krow, AUDIOPHILE AUDITION
What distinguishes music from music product? Every diva digs into the chestnuts, every sax player works the same side of the street. And? Well, Webb is the Hollywood go to guy for sax being the first call cat on Clint Eastwood’s list as well as being the ‘voice’ of Lisa Simpson’s sax. With friends like Larry Goldings, Stanley Clarke and Gerry Gibbs hanging out on this after hours feeling, post bop jazzbo tour de force---baby, this is music. So soulful a non-jazzbo will be mesmerized that he can sit still for a grown up session like this, the sound of players playing what they want to because they can is an unmistakable high. Killer stuff that gives the oldies a whole new breath of fresh air---divas take note! Hot stuff.
—Chris Spector, Midwest Record