Cover image for Ben Webster : his life and music
Ben Webster : his life and music
Valk, Jeroen de, 1958-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
In a mellow tone. English
"American and completely updated edition.".
Publication Information:
Berkeley, Calif. : Berkeley Hills Books : Distributed by Publishers Group West, [2001]

Physical Description:
xi, 280 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML419.W39 V3513 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



An anecdotal portrait of the jazz saxophonist begins with the transport of his great-great-grandmother as a slave from Guinea to Kentucky in the early nineteenth century and continues through the donation of his instrument to the Institute of Jazz studies after his death.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In the 1920s, Coleman Hawkins gave the tenor saxophone its first distinctive jazz voice and so became one of the most influential and innovative jazz artists. Virtually everyone who played the tenor sax for the next half century was clearly indebted to Hawkins. In 1934, Ben Webster took Hawkins's chair in the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra and quickly become one of the masters of the instrument. Valk sympathetically follows Webster's career, which could be compared to the flight of a shooting star. Rising quickly and ever so brightly, Webster soon flamed out in liquor, depression, and mental instability. An important jazz artist on a level just below the seminal figures of Hawkins, Lester Young, John Coltrane, and Sonny Rollins, Webster did not open new approaches or styles that led others to follow his footsteps. Valk provides both a balanced overview and considerable detail and insight into Webster's mental and physical collapse. Although the bibliographic references are not complete, the writing is clear and direct and the author includes a selected discography. Webster's life and musical contributions deserve documentation, and this book does it for all levels of interest. C. M. Weisenberg University of California, Los Angeles

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Chronologyp. ix
The brute and the beautifulp. 1
Kansas cityp. 7
Henderson, calloway and wilsonp. 27
With the guv'nor: duke ellingtonp. 47
52nd Street--on his ownp. 71
Norman granz and the fruitful fiftiesp. 89
Final years in the statesp. 115
A new life in europep. 135
The amsterdam yearsp. 145
Someone to watch over mep. 177
Twilight years in denmarkp. 195
The final toursp. 213
Records in the decade 1964-1973p. 225
"...and i'm old and going"p. 237
Ol' betsyp. 249
Select discographyp. 257
Index of namesp. 277