Got a new album that’s “doing it for me” right now. Ben Webster & Stan Tracey “Soho Nights Vol2”. A live concert of Webster’s first visit to Ronnie Scott’s in 1964 (Vol1 is from a later visit in ’68).
While I love Ben Webster’s swingin’, breathy, smooth tenor sound it’s Tracey’s input on this album that was the bait for me (Stan can do no wrong that I know of).
Apparently this is the second volume it what will be a trilogy of concerts that have remained unheard in 40+ years. Got 1 and 2 – bring on 3 – quickly!!
“Chelsea Bridge” a perennial Webster ballad is beautiful, though on this track Tracey appears to fade into the background somewhat.
However, on other more upbeat numbers such as “Cotton Tail” and “Poutin’” we are treated to the now familiar slapped-down thunking chords that can give Tracey’s playing a Monkish feel. All the while Webster’s tenor floats over this. It’s like layering a really smooth sweet jam over crunchy peanut butter – it really does work, and it makes the sum equal to more than the total of the singles.
But Stan isn’t just a Monk disciple, his sound is his own though he openly admits two main influences and “Over The Rainbow” sees the Ellington side of Tracey emerge and the piano provides the breeze for Webster’s soft tones to drift along on.
For an unreleased tape that’s 44 years old the quality is superb (even when dumbed down to “tinnitus friendly” mono).
The closing “track” is an announcement by Ronnie Scott thanking the players. Then telling the punters that next up is Jimmy Deuchar while the next night sees Stan return with Ronnie and Bobby Wellins …. Jeez, I hope somebody taped those!!