Advocates AFFECT Magazine - April 2015
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Weaving a Webb at the Saville Theatre
Sep 11, 2015
A sweltering September night set the stage for an evening of blistering modal jazz courtesy of Jazz 88’s flagship concert program, Jazz Live. Centered in the acoustically pristine Saville Theatre, L.A.-based saxophonist Doug Webb fronted a top-shelf quartet featuring pianist Mitchel Forman, bassist Kevin Axt, and drummer Dan Schnelle.
Right out of the gates, Webb was firing on all cylinders on the wicked swing of "Mr. Milo," a burner driven by the reedman’s swirling energy and the muscular piano of Forman, who was consistently delightful throughout the night.
The leader darted in and around the melody for John Lennon’s "I Will," taken to a higher level by the gospel feel of Forman’s piano and the deep woody texture of Axt’s bass, which reminded me a great deal of the Norwegian master Palle Danielsson.
Webb broke out his soprano saxophone for the serpentine choreography of Frank Foster’s "Simone," really digging in over the precise ride-cymbal articulations from Schnelle, who also contributed a stunning mix of detonation and finesse in an expansive and mind-boggling solo.
Back on tenor, Webb rubbed a deep burnish into the creases of Monk’s "Ask Me Now," exhibiting the soul of an improviser not unfamiliar with the vagaries of genuine romance.
This is the way it’s supposed to sound. There’s no higher compliment in my book
—Robert Bush , 7 San Diego
Avenue of the Americas
In 2008, due to pre-engagement scheduling and travel mishaps, this recording came close to being scrapped. With some commitment and fortitude, the musicians shifted gears and recorded this session at an alternate location in Syracuse, N.Y. Indeed, a good thing, as the fourteen tracks serve up a rather homogenized brew, featuring cross-sectional outlooks of the jazz vernacular, where the quartet seamlessly integrates the inside, outside, and free spectrums into a personalized group-centric sound.
Veteran pianist David Haney - a longtime artist for this record label - benefits from a hearty support structure, including saxophonist Doug Webb who is on the heels of a superfine 2011 date for Posi-Tone records titled "Swing Shift," featuring legendary bassist Stanley Clarke. Otherwise, Haney’s quartet dishes out ample doses of pop and sizzle, abetted by Webb’s cunning improvisational segments, largely constructed with edgy intonations, bristling flurries, and yearning choruses. Webb’s modalities could be viewed as a combination of vintage and free-form John Coltrane. Although his phraseology is not wholly derivative, he adopts some of Trane’s searching-like mechanisms.
Accelerated by drummer Mat Marucci and Argentinean bassist Jorge Hernaez’s bouyant pulses, toggling between bop, free-bop and mainstream, Haney arms the band with a variegated line of attack as he rhythmically comps, embellishes, and assists with the tension-building intervals. He also injects free-form piano clusters into various movements, signaling a myriad of off-center diversions.
The quartet tears down walls, shifts strategies, and morphs anthem-like movements with soaring lines, and upbeat incursions on the three-part, "Remembrance Suite." And they execute a groove-oriented swing during "Jeanaye," sparked by a memorable melody that is contrasted by Haney’s jabbing and darting block chords amid a few gracefully rendered delicacies. As Webb’s soloing jaunts comprise staggered flows, linear runs, and affirm that an active mind is on the loose. Hence, the band works within a broad temporal plane, coinciding with the respective musicians’ solid compositions and cleverly implemented arrangements where structure and improvisation are splendidly balanced throughout. - Glenn Astarita
David Haney: piano; Mat Marucci: drums; Doug Webb: saxophone; Jorge Hernaez: bass.
On Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7:00 p.m., noted jazz saxophonist Doug Webb gave a free concert at the Pollock Theatre at College of the Desert, which the Arts Department announced was sold out.
Doug Webb has recorded music for many movies and TV shows. He was the saxophonist behind Lisa Simpson on the TV cartoon The Simpsons, and he can be heard on the soundtracks for Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby.
Student Rafael Rodriguez, a music major at COD, who had the opportunity to play with Webb in COD’s jazz ensemble, described it as one of his best musical experiences and that it was refreshing to play with such a great musician. Rodriguez and the student jazz ensemble worked together the day of the concert to prepare the pieces they were to play. He mentioned that he did not feel rushed or pressured since Webb is such a confident and experienced musician, and this attitude rubbed off on the jazz ensemble.
The concert amazed him, the songs had strong melody points and he could feel that the audience was really into the music. This has come a long way since jazz groups and big band style was introduced at COD by Dr. Anthony Fesmire, "The concerts are always free!" he exclaimed. Rodriguez has one suggestions for the college, he hopes COD will provide more enlightening experiences like this and gives a special thanks to Dr. Fesmire.
Mikael Jacobson, a music faculty member and bass player, told The Chaparral it was a real treat to play with Doug Webb, "he’s a world class artist, and among the best musicians I’ve accompanied onstage," he said. Jacobson met Webb for the first time 90 minutes before the concert started. He said Webb learned difficult music by ear with the trio in 45 minutes, which he said was ‘insane.’ In Jacobson’s opinion, the most important thing about the concert was the inclusion of the COD Jazz Ensemble. “Not only did it give the students an opportunity to play with a master, it exposed the capacity house to what’s going on at COD. I’m not sure many people outside of COD knew we had a Jazz band of this caliber. My parents have already put the next Jazz Ensemble concert on their calendar.”
Being able to bring Doug Webb to COD and the desert community was huge. The music most certainly meant different things to different people. As he spoke to a few people after the concert, reactions ranged from "That was unbelievable!" to "The music went over my head!"
—Petra Schultz, The Chaparral
Partners In Crime
Saxophonist Doug Webb and drummer Mat Marucci team up with, alternately, bassists Ken Filiano and Joe Dolister, for some high-powered playing on "Change-Up" and "Partners In Crime." Both are live recordings. ... the kind of jazz gig you'd be lucky to hear at your local club or bar. These sides are recommended for the crowd that likes to dig in and listen to players blow, jam and stretch out, with an emphasis on Webb's horn playing; it's music that creates the illusion of something more in smaller packages.
—John Ephland, DOWNBEAT Apr 2010
Partners In Crime
"I understand that they’ve been recording for CIMP as well. I haven’t heard any of that yet, but if it is anything like this set, it’s a winner. What does all that go to show you? Truly, it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it. Now as ever."
—Grego Applegate Edwards, Cadence Magazine Jan-Mar 2010
"A drummer and a saxophonist with widely scattered session credits get a shot to play free in Cadence's for-audiophiles-only studio, and make the most of it.
I've managed to hustle Cadence into sending a couple of CIMP batches (they release 5 CDs four times a year), but keep missing their rare gems.
This was the best of the batch, and slipped through the cracks.......... practically the gold star stamp of quality on left-of-center jazz records."
-"This is high-level mainstream jazz playing with a suble looseness that gives it a spontaneous energy."
—Marcus Crowder, Mostly That Jazz
"Commencing with "Waltz for Therese", which is a sort of waltz featuring some fine, spirited soprano sax from Doug and strong bass solo
from Ken. "The Rumble" is a great uptempo march with Mat's great snare work keeping the fast shuffle spinning hard, as Doug takes a long feisty
soprano solo. Ken also takes a riveting solo as Mat taps out the quick stream of notes right with him. On "Riff for Rusch", Doug has a
Trane-like tone on his tenor, strong and self-assured with the powerful rhythm team providing a most impressive undertow. An excellent
excursion. Doug plays some truly fine stritch (a straight alto sax) on "Caught in the Webb", that solid rhythm team spinning around him,
building as they ascend. "Euro-Jazz" has a 'Bitches Brew'-like groove with some fine slow burning sax."
—Bruce Lee Gallanter
No Lesser Evil
"No Lesser Evil shows three west coast musicians performing at their best that Afro-American music current which brings the lesson of bob up to date and reshapes it as well. Mat Marucci, Doug Webb and Kerry Kashiwagi should be held in esteem thanks to their approach that is truly original to the compositions. For example, the employment of a dirty-sounding soprano sax positively surprises in "Take 5" and avoids comparisons with Paul Desmond's diaphanous sax and confers unexpected determination to Dave Brubeck's hit. The supersonic speec of "A Night in Tunisia" strikes as well, pruned from every exotic drift and more similar to the most inspired Charlie Parker's "fly without net." The whole album is strewn with interesting revisions and with moments of grat emotional intensity."
—Vincenzo Roggero, All About Jazz
No Lesser Evil
"Mat Marucci, Doug Webb and Kerry Kashiwagi should be held in esteem thanks to their aproach that is truly original to the composition. For example, the employment of a dirty-sounded sax soprano positively surprises in "Take 5", avoids comparisons with Paul Desmond's diaphanous sax and confers unexpected determination to Dave Brubeck's hit. The supersonic speed of "A Night in Tunisia" strikes as well, pruned from every exotic drift and more similar to the most inspired Charlie Parker's "fly without net." The whole album is strewn with interesting revisions and with moments of great emotional intensity."
—Vincenzo Roggero, Italia.allaboutjazz.com
No Lesser Evil
"It's refreshing to hear jazz played without pretension. Seriously. Webb gets into some great Trane-like soloing, especially on a cover of Paul Desmond's 'Take Five.'"
—David Riedel, Newsreview, Sacramento
3 The Hard Way
"Webb wields equal chops on each of his instruments and one can feel the musicians loosening up as the session progrsses, playing with increased passion as the day progresses. Highly recom.commended!"
—Ken Dryden, allmusic.com
3 The Hard Way
On the opener titled "Waltz for Therese," Doug Webb's blithe soprano sax phrasings ride atop a jazz-waltz motif, where a fragile beauty evolves into a frenzied,
progressive jazz vista. No doubt, it's a democratic engagement via the trio's hybrid, loose-vibe and tightly-focused gait.
The respective musicians afford themselves ample soloing space, where expansion and contraction counterbalances military march patterns,
fluid ostinatos and probing frameworks. As a tenor saxophonist, Webb morphs a gutsy attack with a raspy edge and soul-stirring chops. On
"Caught in the Webb," he generates John Coltrane-like modalities by soaring skyward and re-engineering numerous melody lines. Therefore,
he transmits a sense of spirituality, which of course, is very indicative of Trane's final phase.
—Glenn Astarita, jazzreview.com
"Monster saxophonist, Webb, played his instrument with mind-blowing energy, alternating between the bass, tenor, alto, and soprano. His amazing solos were so staggering to watch that the crowd responded with hoots and hollers. You can't help but be attracted to the powerful force Webb exudes, knowing this is the finest sax improvisation you'll ever hear. Superb bassist, Comache, currently touring with Kevin Eubanks, ex musical director of the Tonight Show, says, "It's always a treat to play Mark's originals, opening new musical roads for these incredibly talented musicians to navigate."
—Debra Graff, Valley Scene Magazine
"Webb, a longtime member of the Bill Holman Big Band, and with innumerable credits beyond that, can do it all when it comes to jazz, whatever the tempo, whatever the sound level. But soft and mellow on this particular night was a winner."
—Bob Agnew, LA Jazzz Review
"Webb moves from soprano to stritch and tenor saxophone on this session, displaying a fondness for each. His melodic influence pushes the session dramatically...Whereas many avant garde saxophonists love to squawk, shriek and squeal their way through a session, Webb respects his audience by providing lovely textures that focus on musical aspects over any kind of emotional overload. At the same time, he and his two partners are completely free and unrestrained. The music ebbs and flows with a combination of swing, soul and fiery emotion."
—Jim Santella, L.A.Jazz Scene
"Webb’s mature and inventive tenor lines are the group’s outstanding feature...His tone is sure and melodic, and his technique, improvisations and gorgeous light touches made his work with Eastwood particularly satisfying."
—Philip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner
"He’s a real high-energy player. When he’s there, he makes the room electric."
—Bob Marks, Bob Marks' Hollywood Boulevard All-Stars
"Webb was burning on his solo. He’s a big fan of Coltrane and Rollins and he amazes me with his fluid technique."
—Bob Comden, LA Jazz Scene
"The band’s version of Jumpin’ at the Woodside featuring Webb on a wailing tenor solo, was described aptly by Severinsen as a ‘barn burner."
—Tom Ineck, Lincoln Journal-Star
"Saxophonist Doug Webb has distinguished himself in the Southern California jazz pantheon as an improviser with sterling skills and considerable energy and fire. To use a musicians’ term for playing fast and furiously, Webb loves to 'burn,' and often does. But when he performs in the relaxed atmosphere of the lounge at Bistango, he adopts a different persona. What a pleasure it was this week to hear the often combustive musician dampen the furnace a bit and let his mellifluous side take flight. Like John Coltrane, who is one of his idols, Webb has a worthwhile message to impart no matter what the medium. On his chief vehicle, the tenor saxophone (he also played soprano sax and flute, he achieved a fat, soothing tone in the low register and a bright, gleaming sound in the higher reaches. ...the pony-tailed saxman (who has worked with Freddie Hubbard, Brian Bromberg and Billy Childs, among others) chose his selections with care. The medium tempo Gnid found Webb offering the pretty melody mostly without ornamentation, keeping it close at hand, playing snatches of it and then weaving in spontaneous ideas: a sudden upward gush, a curving be-bop run, a phrase with which he would descend a few notes and then change directions willy-nilly, soaring to higher ground. He artfully mixed melody with improvisation during Johnny Mandel’s Emily and the evergreen Shadow of Your Smile, when his soprano sound was haunting one moment, robust and forceful the next. The Latin-funk ballad Europa found Webb opening up a bit more, emphasizing his rhythmic acumen and hitting high, gritty notes that were all the more compelling for their lack of overt volume. Webb was most volatile during the fast Rhythm-A-Ning, offering a whirlwind solo with long garlands of notes, creating a sonic density that contrasted with his other numbers. Even then, though, he employed sufficient restraint that this muscular outing was not out of place with the rest of this subtle, first-class performance.
—Zan Stewart, Los Angeles Times
"Saxophonist Webb Creates Daring Sounds for Serious Jazz Fans - The greatest tenor saxophonists seldom risk playing in a trio setting, a notable exception being Joe Henderson. Even John Coltrane played mostly with a quartet, allowing another major voice - the piano - to share the limelight. To play tenor backed by only bass and drums means you’ve got to have an awful lot to say, and Webb recited volumes in his first few numbers, preaching a fiery jazz sermon. Webb is a technically compelling player who keeps his listeners mesmerized with an endless stream of ideas. And there’s a lot of history in his well-worn horn. His stated influences are clear, from the flights of Sonny Rollins to the furious ‘sheets of sound’ of Coltrane to the intensity of Henderson. The entertainment at Café Concerto is 'serious jazz,' and Webb more than fits the bill. This is not music for the jazz novice or the casually interested fan. But for those willing to share in his power, it’s a moving experience."
—Steve Eddy, The Orange County Register
"Webb plays tenor sax like he was born to do that and nothing else. He’s young but plays with intensity and while one can hear the Coltrane influence in his work, Webb’s take is original and complete. Webb blasted through some classic jazz material with fiery power. His take on ballads was sensitive and graceful. An aggressive, un-romantic Satin Doll was a fine surprise. Webb is a clever improviser who ranges widely over his keys, eliciting every possible nuance from his horn. ...You may think that this kind of hard-bop, hard-blowing stuff is available all over LA, but it certainly isn't. It takes very special, committed musicians to play it, shape it and make it sound right. This music is gritty and real, very emotional and sometimes hard to listen to. It pushes the edge further, is extremely challenging and while it’s not pretty, it reveals great beauty. ...To sum up, it was like drinking a small cup of that wonderfully strong Cuban coffee after you’ve been drinking de-caf all week."
—Myrna Daniels, LA Jazz Scene
"On tenor, Doug is from the post-Coltrane school - an explorer with structure and taste. Webb is a very capable, hard-driving somewhat swinging and individualistic improviser. His ideas had continuity, emotion and were oriented toward exploring the tonal limits of the horn, especially high notes, but always with taste and control."
—Fred Eckstein, LA Times
"Horn Man Has Taken His Cues From Coltrane - Webb found that such pieces as Giant Steps, Countdown and Naima, which had mesmerized him as a teenager, were still 'the freshest and most exciting things I’d heard in years. They were filled with beautiful, warm feeling,' said Webb. 'The music is so gorgeous and melodic.' Those two words can also describe Webb’s improvisations. The horn man, who has played with Freddie Hubbard, Alphonse Mouson and Sal Marquez, blends the influence of Coltrane with other sax greats, among them Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley and Joe Henderson, into a decidedly moving and musical style."
—Zan Stewart, LA Times