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Lucid Culture takes Doug Webb “Another Scene”…

Doug Webb‘s new album Another Scene ranks among the best from Posi-Tone, including Jared Gold’s organ albums, the Captain Black Big Band album and Ralph Bowen’s awesome Power Play  from a couple of years ago.  This one puts the LA tenor saxophonist out in front of a New York rhythm section with energy to match – you want intensity? You got it. Bill Frisell keeps Rudy Royston in his band because he is what he is, but this unit gives Royston the chance to cut loose in the studio like he does onstage in JD Allen‘s trio. He makes bassist Dwayne Burno‘s job easy. Pianist Peter Zak also gets plenty of opportunities to raise the voltage.

The opening track, Mr. Milo, is a briskly biting, syncopated Miles homage, Webb burning through the whole-tone scale, Zak hitting a similarly highwire intensity as he charges downward. One for Art – a homage to Webb’s late bassist bandmate Art Davis  – is a launching pad for a long, absolutely blistering run by Webb, Zak’s solo over impatient drums that turn loose explosively- and then the band goes back to swing as if nothing happened. OK…for a little while, anyway.

Kenny Wheeler’s Smatter gets a clenched-teeth, scurrying swing and more Royston being Royston – it calms, or at least focuses, from midway on. They do Dave Brubeck’s Southern Scene as a warmly cantabile ballad, Zak rippling over almost wry Royston cymbals, keeping it lush, Webb’s warm solo echoing a Paul Desmond dry martini elegance. Another Step sets Webb and Zak’s energetic hard-bop moves over a disarmingly simple swing; Jobim’s Double Rainbow works the tension between Webb’s balminess and the raw intensity of the rhythm section for all it’s worth. Royston’s cascading waves in tandem with Zak’s solo are absolutely luscious.

Eulogy takes awhile to get going, but springboards an absolutely haunted, wrenching tenor solo from the bandleader, contrasting with the lickety-split romp Rhythm with Rudy. The version of What Is There to Say here is a predictably long feature for Webb, while Verdi Variations playfully pilfers the opera book, both Webb and Zak attacking the themes with more agitation and fire than you would expect. They follow that with a sly, bouncy excursion through Thad Jones’ Bird Song and conclude with a warmly steady take of Benny Carter’s Trust  Your Heart. Webb has come a long way since his days voicing tv characters.

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The Jazz Page covers Doug Webb “Another Scene”…

Veteran saxman Doug Webb has a big-time jazz saxophone voice, in league with some of the great purveyors of the instrument. This sound is on full display on his latest effort Another Scene. Webb can burn hard on a swing tune or find the tenderest approach on a ballad. He knows his stuff and he’s joined by a collection of musicians who know theirs as well. Joining Webb on the project are Peter Zak on piano, Dwayne Burno on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. The group covers an array of material, from Webb’s excellent compositions, as well as tunes by the likes of Dave Brubeck, Benny Carter, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Kenny Wheeler. Webb’s big, bright sound in the midst of all this great rhythm is tremendous and the performances here make this one of our favorites of the year.

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Audiophile Audition covers Doug Webb “Another scene”…

Doug Webb – Another Scene – Posi-Tone PR 8115, 61:56 [10/22/13] ****:

(Doug Webb – tenor sax; Peter Zak – piano; Dwayne Burno – bass; Rudy Royston – drums)

West Coast-based saxophonist Doug Webb continues to impress. For his fourth CD on the Posi-Tone label, Webb has the support of an East Coast rhythm section to match his intensity and creativity. Doug is based in the Los Angeles, which has not brought on the exposure on the national scene he would have had if either New York or Chicago was his home base.

Working out of the busy movie and television based LA scene, Webb had his days open for movie and television work, especially when he was working with Doc Severinsen‘s big band. Clint Eastwood recognized his talents, as he can be heard on the Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino soundtracks. I’ve especially dug Webb’s contributions to Bill Holman’s Big Band when I have been down in Los Angeles for the LA Jazz Institute theme weekends. Webb was always featured by Bill for memorable front line sax solos.

On his latest CD, Another Scene, half of the twelve tracks are written by Doug. “Mr. Milo” opens the CD with the melodic swing that Webb handles with such consistency. Playing only tenor this time out, Doug’s “One for Art” increases the intensity spurred on by the talented Rudy Royston on drums. Webb can switch effortlessly from mainstream lines to explore the outside range approaching the playing of the best post bop stylists, even bringing to mind a Coltrane freedom. Pianist Zak has a nice solo mid-track here.

“Smatter” cools down the vibe a bit, while Brubeck’s “Southern Scene” is strikingly beautiful. Clearly Doug can fit in everywhere, as a first call studio musician must. Jobim’s “Double Rainbow” has a sparkling theme aided again by Peter Zak, and the steady bottom end provided by Dwayne Burno, who is making quite a name for himself on numerous East Coast sessions.

Doug’s “Eulogy  has a spiritual motif that would be found between Coltrane and Tyner, while “Rhythm with Rudy” was written by Doug as a tune to interact with his drummer, as Rudy and Doug trade off lines. Vernon Duke’s “What is There to Say” shows Webb’s lyrical abilities to massage a lovely ballad.

Posi-Tone has another winning Doug Webb release on their hands. Hopefully, they can expand his horizons in the future with a few more horns to flesh out his compositions. I’d look forward to that…

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Music and More reviews Doug Webb “Another Scene”…

Saxophonist Doug Webb grew up in California before moving east to study at Berklee. He is in great demand as a sideman and a film score composer, and this album presents him leading a band with Peter Zak on piano, Dwayne Bruno on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. This is a well played and accessible modern mainstream jazz album that takes its inspiration from the likes of Hank Mobley and John Coltrane. “Mr. Milo” opens the album at a bright, swinging tempo. A strong piano, bass and drums break is wrapped on either side by Webb’s saxophone which has an appealing classic tenor tone. Starting as a ballad, “One For Art” then jumps up as an exercise in uptempo hard-bop. Royston is featured appropriately as his percussion drives the band forward as well as trading phrases with Webb’s saxophone. “Another Step” is a very nice fast paced performance based on John Coltrane’s classic song “Giant Steps.” the music is bright and sharp and tumbles forward in an enjoyable fashion. The band is very tight on “Rhythm with Rudy” where tight saxophone and drums interplay makes for a locked in rhythmic feel. “Verdi Variations” also evokes John Coltrane, beginning with a dark and spiritual feel, where he reaches forth on the saxophone, stretching and searching.

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Midwest Record reviews Doug Webb “Another Scene”…

DOUG WEBB/Another Scene: Sax man Webb puts LA in his rear view mirror for a while and kicks it big apple style. Don’t worry, he didn’t leave any of his hard driving playing in his rear view mirror. Too driving a set for hipsters, this is for real jazzbos that want to dig the groove that doesn’t quit. Solid stuff from a canon that keeps growing in the right direction.

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Brent Black on Doug Webb “Another Scene”…

Doug Webb may well be the best unknown saxophonist in America.
Doug Webb has released three critically acclaimed recordings on the Posi-Tone label. So who is Doug Webb? Having played and recorded with such luminaries as Stanley Clarke, Rod Stewart, and Pancho Sanchez there is no questioning Webb’s versatility. Small screen work for Webb includes such smash television shows as Family Guy and Law And Order, toss in solos from big screen soundtracks that include Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and Grand Torino and you are looking at perhaps the premier first call tenor player on the left coast. It would be all too easy to lump Doug Webb in the category of that all too typical session player that bangs out some righteous solos and then packs his horn up only to move on to the next gig.  

Another Scene is Webb’s finest solo work to date with a formidable 4tet that hits all their marks and then some! Well traveled bassist Dwayne Burno works well within a rhythm section including the largely unheralded Peter Zak on piano and perhaps one of the finest half dozen drummers on the planet in Rudy Royston. Everyone needs a change of scene on occasion and with Another Scene recorded in the improvisational mecca we know as New York, Doug Webb embraces a hard swing and intense lyrical sense of direction that his musical co-conspirators work to a new level of hard bop. A release with six of the twelve tunes as originals puts Webb’s compositional prowess front and center. The opening “Mr. Milo” and “Rhythm With Rudy” coupled with the striking Jobim cover of  “Double Rainbow” reinforce colors, textures and a deft hand at shading that push Another Scene into the rarefied air of hard bop for the next generation.
Posi-Tone clearly has a stable of perhaps the finest saxophonists working today and Webb is certainly deep in the mix. This is jazz that is real, raw, and at times on a delightful ragged edge. While others are languishing in odd meter to make a point and attempting to work from that pretentious speed is king mentality, Doug Webb keeps it real.
A stellar effort!
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Sax Shed reviews Doug Webb “Swing Shift”…

Tenor Saxophonist Doug Webb recently released Swing Shift on Posi-Tone Records. The recording features Webb on tenor, Stanley Clarke on bass, Gerry Gibbs on drums and three different pianists, Larry Goldings, Joe Bagg and Mahesh Balasoorlya.

According to the liner notes, “Swing Shift represents the third record from one fruitful day of recording, in which I gathered the great Stanley Clarke and Gerry Gibbs together and had three different piano players stop by for a few hours each. My goal for the day was to capture the feeling of musicians playing together, relating, and reacting to each other; just playing music we love. We played almost forty songs that day, and we did no overdubs, edits, or fadeouts. In fact, there were very few second takes. A special thanks to all of the musicians, engineers and guys at Posi-Tone for making these records possible.” – Doug Webb, 2011

The impromptu, recorded jam session entitled Swing Shift captures the energy and creative spirit of Doug Webb’s playing. This is something I first became aware some 30 years ago at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

As a freshman at Berklee, I quickly became aware of Doug Webb’s abilities and a peculiarity he shared with no other at the time. He could often be found roaming the halls from practice room to class to ensemble room – always barefoot. Many of us resided in the dorms above the Mass. Ave building and a quick ride down the elevator would place you ready for your academic day. Whatever Doug’s motivation for being barefoot, he was known as one of the guys who could REALLY PLAY and just happened to walk around without shoes.

Doug may not remember our brief interaction at Berklee, but it is funny how listening to music like this will bring back a flood of memories. Once I subbed for Doug in the Bob Rose’s Jazz/Rock Ensemble and another time he barged into my practice room and absolutely had to know what lick I was working on. I shared the pattern with him and he reciprocated with another – one that has given me good mileage over these past 30 years!

Here on Swing Shift Doug Webb demonstrates his formidable abilities on tenor and soprano saxophone, opening with the classic Soul Eyes. His tenor sound is big with a bit of brightness and edge heard from many post Coltrane tenor players who grew up in the shadow of Michael Brecker, Steve Grossman, Bob Berg and David Liebman. Patagonia Suite features Webb on soprano, exploring the outer harmonic limits and later opting to pick up the tenor. On tenor he immediately begins to on a free improvisation employing multiphonics, overtones and altissimo.

Doug Webb chooses to pick up the soprano again on Frank Foster’s Simone. He weaves in and out the changes beautifully through the first chorus before taking more liberties. His soprano playing is wonderful here.

Quite to my surprise, Doug Webb opts to play alto saxophone – and quite well I may add – on Where or When. The Rogers and Hart classic is performed as a duo between Webb and Joe Bagg on piano. Clearly, Webb has great depth as a jazz musician. His alto sound contains a favorable combination of sweet and brittle at the same time. Prior to this recording I knew Webb as primarily a tenor saxophonist.

Rizone as with Patagonia displays Webb’s ability to burn. He and drummer Gerry Gibbs perform the Webb original at a break neck tempo, never missing a beat.

The closing blues Apodemia is another original by Webb and Clarke. Webb stretches on tenor saxophone; taking it out and then reeling himself back in once again.

Listening to Swing Shift by Doug Webb brings a smile to my face. Not only do I enjoy Webb’s saxophone playing but his choice of songs like Simone and Soul Eyes remind me of those old days coming up in Boston.

Do yourself a favor and check out Doug Webb’s Swing Shift on Posi-Tone Records.

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JazzWrap reviews Doug Webb “Swing Shift”…

The most important things about any group that has been/recorded together for long period of time is consistency and chemistry. In the case of Doug Webb, this consistency and chemistry came of the course of one long day which has given birth to three recordings including his latest, Swing Shift. These recordings represent a number of snapshots over those hours with various piano players. But the one constant is Webb’s amazing direction and the groups ability to hold strong and sound blisteringly beauty on every piece.

Opening this set with brilliance, Webb features Larry Goldings on piano performing on the Mal Waldron classic, “Soul Eyes.” It’s a nice and uptempo version with a lot of a muscle and vitality. Webb’s sound is bold and jumps out and takes hold. The connection the trio of Gibbs, Webb and Clarke have with each pianist throughout these sessions is amazing. Goldings playing, particularly towards the middle of the piece is like an elegant tap dancer.

While the opening minutes of the 22 minute epic, “Patagonia Suite” (written by Webb and Clarke)can be compared to Coltrane as far as performance, the material expands from that theme to Webb’s own vision very quickly. The opening movement flies at a frenzy. Batasooriya delivers a resounding performance as he challenges the trio and they respond with crisp versatility. The second movement sees each member moving through improvised solos with Gibbs expressing himself through crazy timing that makes the piece more adventurous than it already is.

Webb offers a sense of spirituality as the “Patagonia Suite” moves into its middle section, which does feel like late period Coltrane but its extremely effective. The interaction between Clarke and Webb is fantastic. This is probably the most exciting I’ve heard Clarke in years. “Patagonia Suite” later resettles into a kind of hard bop mode as it travels towards its conclusion; including quiet but rich solos from Clarke and Batasooriya.

“Apodemia,” another piece written by Webb and Clarke is a bright conclusion to the session. Joe Bagg sits in on piano. The band plays off Webb’s vibrant yet cool performance. This has a nice live feeling to it. I’m really impressed with Webb’s performances and writing throughoutSwing Shift. “Apodemia,” while based in the hard bop mold has a solid sense of modernism delivered by the musicians. Clarke adds a little bit of the funky groove for which he is known. Webb allows the band to really stretch on this piece. It’s a relaxed, diverse and romantic all at once.

Webb’s wild all-day session from four years ago still bears some excitingly fresh fruit. Let’s hope there’s more in the vault to come. Doug Webb has produced a superb bit of work withSwing Shift. If you’ve never listened to him before, this is definitely a disc worth seeking out.

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Lucid Culture reviews Doug Webb “Swing Shift”…

Doug Webb Slays With His Own Stuff

If you see a lot of jazz, you’re probably used to watching familiar faces run through familiar material and wondering to yourself, what if they were left to their own devices? What if they did their own stuff – would they take it to the next level? Doug Webb’s latest album Swing Shift is one answer to that question.

Back in April of 2009, the saxophonist sequestered himself in a Los Angeles studio for a marathon session with a rotating cast of characters. By any standard, the results were spectacularly successful, netting enough material for two good-naturedly energetic, expertly delivered albums of mostly standards, 2009′s Midnight and 2010′s Renovations…and this one. If edgy postbop jazz is your thing, this is your album: Posi-Tone definitely saved the best for last. Webb has chops that’ll make your eyeballs pop. Remember that old Coltrane line about how “everybody thinks I’m playing glissandos but they’re really arpeggios,” or something like that? Whether playing tenor or alto, Webb is on that level, technique-wise, rising with seemingly effortless ease from liquid crystal swirls to gritty, clenched-teeth squalls in places. But this isn’t a chops album – it’s a hot vibe album on a high-octane tip in the same vein as Freddie Hubbard’s Night of the Cookers.

Rhythmic shifts are key here, even as they gradually get into it with Mal Waldron’s Soul Eyes, done as a matter-of-factly swinging blues ballad. Webb takes it doublespeed in a split second, almost imperceptibly, setting up an incisively scampering Larry Goldings piano solo, then resuming his pace without breaking a sweat – or so it seems. Then they jump into the centerpiece of the album, the practically 23-minute Patagonia Suite, a co-write for Webb and bassist Stanley Clarke (who proves to be the perfect fit for this record, whether turning in tireless overtime walking scales, adding low-pressure buoyancy with judicious, juicy chords and even leading the band through a reggae-tinged interlude toward the end). Playing alto with a high, biting, practically snarling tone, Webb casually makes his way through steady eighth-note clusters built around a simple minor-key riff, to wailing squalls, to a dark, stern, straight-ahead, thoughtfully JD Allen-esque interlude that he ends completely unleashed. The architecture is just as smart as the playing, Webb assigning pianist Mahesh Balasooriya (and, to a lesser extent, Clarke) the tough role of following with long solos that echo the sax’s shift from methodical to completely unhinged. Both players register a bullseye, drummer Gerry Gibbs (who played the entire session) cleverly building suspense with his one deadpan, matter-of-fact solo.

In fact, the piece as a whole seems to be a series of variations on Frank Foster’s gorgeously edgy Simone, which is the track that follows: whether their version served as the prototype, or was intended as a coda, it works magically, with a jaw-dropping, supersonic cadenza by Balasooriya, incessant but almost imperceptible tempo shifts and a relentlessly bracing, modal attack by Webb.

They do Rogers and Hart’s Where or When as a trio with no drums, Joe Bagg playing piano with terse hints of stride: even here, Webb is still wired from track two and in edgy minor mode, which redeems this increasingly moldy oldie many times over. They follow that with a Webb/Gibbs duo, Rizone, swirling clusters versus steadily shuffling rhythm and wind up the album with another bracing Webb/Clarke collaboration, Apodemia, evocative (as much of this album is) of Kenny Garrett’s best 1990s-era work. As they do with Where or When, they take their time pulling it together, Clarke fueling the smoldering blaze with his chords, Bagg’s piano unveiling a rippling midnight ambience while Webb broodingly contemplates his next move, the band swaying expectantly underneath. Other than the first track, the tension never really lets up here. This isn’t late night sleepy jazz and it sure as hell isn’t boudoir jazz but as a shot of adrenaline after a rough day at work, it’s unbeatable. Lisa Simpson would be proud (Webb plays her sax parts on tv).

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CriticalJazz reviews Doug Webb “Swing Shift”…

Doug Webb is one of those hard charging post bop tenor players that allows me to accept the fact the best place for my tenor may well be hanging on the wall of the local TGI Fridays. Moving seamlessly from alto to tenor, Webb is a master technician with artistic chops galore but Swing Shift is a tad different. Doug Webb’s Swing Shift is not the traditional blowing session but instead a more lyrical vibe of some of the classic Blue Note large ensembles back when men were men and Blue Note still understood what swing was. The cool bit of back story here is that for the uninitiated, Doug Webb also happens to be the lyrical voice of Lisa Simpson on The Simpsons.
Webb went old school on us back in 2009 by sequestering himself in a Los Angeles studio for a marathon session with a revolving set of pianists with the results successful enough for Swing Shift to be the third volume of work to be released from this session. Swing Shift is passion personified with an all star cast showcasing their unique ability to shift dynamics on the fly, work without a harmonic net and simply blow the roof off the post bop studio they took refuge in.
Opening with “Soul Eyes” a breezy soulful tune from Mal Waldron there is an almost classic Rudy Van Gelder sound to this recording as a effervescent swing takes hold and an organic pulse has Webb push the tempo without over pushing the swing. The incomparable Larry Goldings plays with finesse and precision with drummer Gerry Gibbs subtle percussive nuances and bassist Stanley Clarke anchor a rock star rhythm section. The epicenter ofSwing Shift would be the close to 23-minute long “Panagonia Suite” which is a jaw dropping showcase for both Webb and Clarke. Webb destroys the alto part with an avant gard approach that simply sets the table for Mahesh Balasooriya on piano and Clarke on bass to follow the lyrical road less traveled in the same vein as Webb. The Rodgers and Hart classic “Where or When” is pulled off as a trio with Joe Bagg playing piano and Clarke on bass. Webb continues his foray into the minor harmonics breathing new life into a somewhat tired classic. While there is more than ample sonic firepower displayed throughout this remarkable release, accessibility is never lost.
Swing Shift is hard post bop jazz at an incredibly high level. The day long session included recording nearly 40 songs with three different piano players dropping by throughout the day to work with Webb and his trio. The sound is every bit as notable as the music with most recordings done on one take and there were no overdubs, edits or fade outs. A warm virtually live in the studio ambiance permeates Swing Shift. Consider this a semi-autobiographical look at a musician born to play. Consider this swing on steroids.
5 Stars!