REVIEWS for RENOVATIONS
Top 100 Jazz Albums of 2011
12th - Doug Webb - Renovations - Posi-Tone
— Roots Music Report
I first heard Doug Webb as a member of the Lanny Morgan sextet on the CD "6", previously reviewed on TheJazzConnection.net. He is impressive with Lanny and even more impressive on his own gig. He has split piano duties between 3 players. Two of them I am very familiar with. Larry Goldings is as well known for his organ work as well as the piano and Joe Bagg is a name around the business for many years. Mahesh, I just let his playing speak for him. You notice he is on the 2 tracks that alone can define a player. Can’t get started that great V. Duke song played brilliantly by Bix Beiderbecke and Toots Theilman’s tune Bluesette. Mahesh sounds first rate here and I would love to hear more.
The very first tune is a very familiar, swingin’ Satin Doll. It is a very groovy and different opening. Modulating to all the changes. Dizzy once said "It’s not the notes you play its how you get there." Well Doug gives us the changes with nothing between. Once the melody comes in we have been humming it along with those very familiar changes. Once we are getting into the body of the song each of these jazz greats take choruses that would bring down the house. First, is Doug’s fabulous opening. He can surely conjure up Coltrane with his purity of sound and blinding speed. Stanley Clarke on Dog house bass just works soo well. He is a great bass guitar player also and his speed is breathtaking. Joe Bagg just tears it up on piano and Gerry Gibbs proves once again that he has what’s needed always! A producer must feel good seeing him show up to a session.
Doug’s credentials are stellar. I can always tell the greatness of a player by who he attracts to him/her. Check the opening of Then I’ll Be Tired of You. Larry Goldings great opening really disguises the upcoming moment of swing. Whew! In this configuration it seems the perfect quartet for what we, here at TheJazzConnection.net, always enjoy - demonstrations of the purity of Jazz. Oh, by the way, I always enjoy guys talking while performing. You can never understand what they are saying but can certainly dig how they say it. (I am interrupting my own Review. I have re-listened the beginning of this version of Then I’ll be tired of You and I cannot get over how much this is a perfect example of swing. One moment it’s a great intro the next your tapping your foot and calming down your goose bumps.)
On I Can’t Get Started, they play a pretty straight opening chorus. You recognize the melody immediately. That’s the whole idea because they are going to take a couple trips off the beaten track and it is soo nice to be able to hear what they do to a tune. Gerry Gibbs ,Terry’s son, seems to be the perfect ticket here. Time is important to all the Gibbs’s. Gerry keeps fabulous time otherwise how could he be in his dad’s band? A new “Dream Band”? Speaking of time, nice syncopated sound in the opening. Doug really does some burning in this. Pushing a lot of air really fast. Terrific.
When I am listening to a quartet with no singer I listen how well the piano, especially, supports the "voice", in this case Doug’s superb lead on I’ve Never been in Love Before. Larry Goldings is amazing on this track playing a perfect comp then stepping out on his chorus. Stanley makes the importance of a big bass sound in these small groups very evident. That full sound makes these groups seem twice their size.
Now we come to Clare Fischer and You’ve Changed. Clare Fischer is one of the most lyrical of writers and he certainly produces here. You have read before in TheJazzConnection.net that one of my personal tests for a drummer is how he handles the brushes. Gerry does an admirable job on here and allows his fellow artists like Stanley Clarke to add to the sound so much. Then there is Doug and what a fabulous job he does on here and how hard he does swing and he always get that full tenor sound. One of the recording sounds I like has been used with Henry Mancini a lot and gives it that large reverby sound. Makes that piano crisp.
Doug comes out swinging on You can’t Take that Away from Me a Gershwin classic. There is some fire sale burning going on here. Not only is Doug getting it on so is Joe Bagg. Just straight ahead comping in the best manner. I am always thrilled when I get to hear this kind of work. These great players are always referencing someone or some tune or an experience. I think what a life to use as reference for Jazz.
Toots Thielemans the great harp oops Harmonica player wrote this. I do not want anyone confused. There are Jazz harpists. So this tune Bluesette is one of his most famous and recognizable. Listen to Dougs soprano on here. Blasting speed - ending in a gentle out.
Slow Hot Wind is a Mancini song that folks cover I think because of its exotic sound and changes. All the players take advantage and Stanley seems to have a handle on how this number creates moods and the bass supports those mood changes no matter how subtle. Gerry Gibbs sounds just perfect on that cymbal time. The piano, on here, is another one of Larry Goldings’ classics. He is really exploring the tune here.
So all I can say is that Doug Webb’s RENOVATIONS is certainly worth the listen and a good addition to any library. Till next time:
Remember support Jazz it’s an American Tradition.
—Phil McCarthy, TheJazzConnection.net
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. and films.
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 satisfying performance.
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 and Clarke.
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
From the opening track- a jumpand- jive version of "Satin Doll" - it’s easy to hear what Renovations is all about: slick saxophone in a tightly arranged package. Webb has played with everyone, released a large collection of records and has even taken the reins of the theme songs for "Law And Order" and "The Simpsons," so he knows his way around a studio. . . .
Webb has an equal ability on ballads and uptempo numbers. He may be most compelling, though, on "They Can’t Take That Away From Me," on which he plays alto accompanied only by Joe Bagg’s piano. He also turns to the alto saxophone on "Then I’ll Be Tired of You," and these are the best tracks on the album due to Webb’s open sound and agile playing.
—John Ross, Downbeat
Last summer, jazz saxophonist Doug Webb released an entertainingly trad album titled Midnight. This new one, from the same session, is called Renovations. If we’re in luck, maybe we’ll live to see them reissued together as Midnight Renovations. Intriguing title, huh?
This one is a lot more upbeat, occasionally pretty intense. Buckle your seatbelt - bet you’ve never heard as energetic a version of Satin Doll as the one that has the band jumping out of their socks as animatedly as they do for seven minutes and change here. Besides Webb on tenor, there’s Joe Bagg on piano, Stanley Clarke on upright bass and Gerry Gibbs on drums. Larry Goldings’ casually rippling, summery piano provides an apt backdrop for the languid soprano sax lines on a swaying midtempo version of Then I’ll Be Tired of You - and his organ background comes through fluid and concise, a long solo taking everything up to a crescendo that holds back just thisshort of joyous. An especially amped version of Vernon Duke’s hit I Can’t Get Started, from the long-forgotten film Follies of 1936, has Webb charging hard alongside Mahesh Balasooriya’s express-train piano.
With Goldings manning the throttle again, a tensely swinging I’ve Never Been in Love Before contrasts with Webb’s long, comfortable runway landing, and then brings in some genial blues with the piano. They take Nat Cole’s You’ve Changed doublespeed at just the right random moment; Gershwin’s They Can’t Take That Away from Me, the bluesiest tune here, is also unsurprisingly the most rustic.
Toots Thielemans’ Bluesette is reincarnated, stripped down to what’s basically a rapidfire two-chord jam, Webb’s soprano sax taking a clarinet-like tone, Balasooriya spinning off some wildfire cascades to Webb who takes them even higher: it’s a triumphant pinnacle in an unlikely setting, more than hinting at how much further outside they might be capable of going if they went on longer. The album’s closing cut, Henry Mancini’s Slow Hot Wind - now there’s a title for the moment, huh? - is sort of the mirror image of that, slowly pulsing and sultry, with a geniunely fluid, relaxed solo by Clarke where he doesn’t overvibrato it, Webb’s tenor pushing the caravan along with a stream of eighth notes, Goldings’ dynamics refusing to let the suspense go too far one way or another, Webb finally joining him and they tumble into the vortex. It’s another welcome out-of-control moment – Lisa Simpson, eat your heart out. If you’re wondering what that’s all about, Webb voices her sax parts on the tv show. This one’s out now on Posi-tone.
— Lucid Culture
Saxophonist, plays 'em all but is pictured with a tenor, and that's mostly what I hear. Lives in LA, where he's done a ton of studio work. Second album on mainstream-focused Posi-Tone -- has also recorded for avant-oriented Cadence/CIMP in a group with Mat Marucci. Quartet, with bass (Stanley Clarke), drums (Gerry Gibbs), and a changing cast of pianists. All covers, like "Satin Doll" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Big, bold sound, perfect for saxophone lovers. B+(***)
—Tom Hull, Jazz Prospecting (CG #26, Part 7)- 2/21/2011
April 24, 2009 was a busy day for saxophonist Doug Webb, his fellow musicians and the production team at North Hollywood's Entourage Studios. Recordings from that day have already been released on the excellent Midnight (Posi-Tone 2010): now Renovations delivers more music from the session, and very welcome it is, too.
As with the previous recording Renovations features the core trio of Webb, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Gerry Gibbs on a collection of jazz standards, joined on each track by one of three guest pianist. Larry Goldings had equal credit on the sleeve of Midnight, appearing on five tunes, but on this album he shares the piano work more equally with Joe Bagg and Mahesh Balasooriya.
The tunes, as before, are familiar"overly so, perhaps"but the band is so stylish and inventive that each tune seems more like an old friend from way back than a relative who's overstayed a welcome. The band is tight, melodic and richly-toned, treating these standards with respect, but also with an almost boyish enthusiasm. Clarke's bass playing seems especially strong and inventive, whether driving hard on Toots Thielemans' "Bluesette" or taking a more measured and gentle approach on Henry Mancini's romantic "Slow Hot Wind."
Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's "Satin Doll" is taken at a terrific pace, its usual seductiveness replaced with excitement and verve, both of which are epitomised by outstanding solos from Bagg and Clarke. Arthur Schwartz' "Then I'll Be Tired Of You" swings gently thanks to Clarke and Gibbs: Goldings' piano and Webb's alto saxophone share the lead line, both playing with a delicate grace. Frank Loesser's "I've Never Been In Love Before" is introduced by Goldings' Monk-like piano. Underpinned by Gibbs' brushed shuffle beat, it features another rich bass solo from Clarke as well as lyrical and flowing solos from Webb and Goldings.
Renovations closes with "Slow Hot Wind," Webb's saxophone and Goldings' piano both lending the tune a late-night feel. It's a stylish end to the second set of tunes from that April day.
—Bruce Lindsay, all about jazz- 1/27/2011
It was less than six months ago that we sang the praises of Los Angeles-based saxophonist, Doug Webb, when we reviewed his Posi-Tone CD, Midnight.
Doug’s resume includes many 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 hundreds of recordings for legends like Freddie Hubbard, Quincy Jones, and Horace Silver.
It is great news that Posi-Tone has brought Doug back into the studio for another session so soon. He is back with band mates Stanley Clarke on bass and Gerry Gibbs on drums. Three different pianists split duties on the set of standards presented here.
You can’t go wrong with Doug’s mellow tone on "Satin Doll." It’s made to order for a consummate pro like Doug. Joe Bagg has a nice piano solo to complement Doug’s playing. "Then I’ll be Tired of You" opens with a sensitive intro by Larry Goldings before the lyrical plus Webb treatment. "I Can’t Get Started" has always been a favorite of mine and Webb’s version is taken in bop time.
"I’ve Never Been in Love Before" is as relaxing as a warm cup of cocoa on a chilly night. "You’ve Changed" from the pen of Clare Fischer sounds as if it belongs in a movie soundtrack, which is no surprise as Webb has had so much session work for TV and in the movies for Clint Eastwood.
Toots Thielemans’ "Bluesette" done on soprano sax doesn’t need Toots’ harmonica to be recognized. Doug gives it a good workout. Henry Mancini’s "Slow Hot Wind" ends this thoroughly enjoyable visit with Doug Webb. Kudos to Posi-Tone for continuing to bring Webb’s talent out to a national audience. As always, production values are first class as Posi-Tone does things right with each instrument mixed and recorded superbly.
—Jeff Krow, Audiophile Audition- 1/17/2011
Doug Webb, a seasoned saxophonist who is equally comfortable recording soundtracks in studios or swinging on a bandstand, teamed up with heavy hitters like bass legend Stanley Clarke and pianist Larry Goldings on Midnight (Posi-Tone, 2010). That collection was an expertly crafted, all-standards affair, and the eight classic tunes that make up Renovations were culled from the same session.
While it might be easy to assume that these are second-tier, inferior performances that didn't make the cut for Midnight, that isn't the case. Webb starts off the program with a version of "Satin Doll" that's anything but a rote run-through. This arrangement shakes the very harmonic foundation of the song as it modulates upward while Webb works his way through the melody. "Then I'll Be Tired Of You" is often associated with singers rather than instrumentalists, but Webb makes a good case for adding this one into the regular saxophone repertoire. Clarke controls the momentum on "I Can't Get Started," while "I've Never Been In Love Before" proves to be an album highlight. Goldings kicks this one off with a tumbling, semi-Thelonious Monk-ish distillation of the theme. Webb exhibits a velvety tone and Goldings delivers a solo that starts with simple, yet effective, single note lines in the upper reaches of the piano.
"You've Changed" is classy balladry that, while delivered with style, overstays its welcome a bit. Webb's slithery saxophone work on the sans-drums performance of "They Can't Take That Away From Me," and his frantic soprano saxophone flights on the back end of "Bluesette" help to re-energize the album. By the time Webb arrives at the album closer, Henry Mancini's "Slow Hot Wind," he has nothing left to prove, and he spins out seductive, sleek saxophone lines that leave a sense of mystery and intrigue hovering in the air
—Dan Bilawsky, all about jazz- 1/12/2011