Soulville, etc.

'Soulville', a 1958 album by Ben Webster

One of the best of my recent vinyl purchases was Soulville by saxophonist Ben Webster, who seems to have been caught in rather pensive mood when the cover photo was taken. Originally released in ‘58 on the Verve label, the copy I found was a 1980 French re-press in excellent condition. It’s a warmly mellow album, heavy on the ballads. I’ve had mixed success with his records previously, finding it hard to love See You at the Fair (1964) and ending up with a damaged copy of Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster (1960), but this one’s definitely a keeper.

On the same day I acquired more jazz in the shape of an interesting compilation (How High The Mooon) of late ’60s recordings featuring another saxophonist: Illinois Jacquet. Among the tracks an interesting take on Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” where Jacquet switched to bassoon, an instrument very seldom heard in a jazz setting. As well as the jazz I picked up no fewer than four David Bowie 45s: ‘Sorrow’, ‘Rebel Rebel’, ‘Rock’n’Roll Suicide’ and ‘Sound and Vision’, plus Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’, also on 7".

'Sultry Serenade', a 1958 album by Herbie Mann

From another subsequent batch of acquisitions my head was turned by Jeri Southern At The Crescendo (1960), apparently the singer’s final album before withdrawing from the music business, but the first I’d heard of her. I’m hoping to put a few more of her albums alongside it on my shelves. At first listen I was less taken with Herbie Mann’s 1958 outing Sultry Serenade, which I’d bought on account of its wonderful cover photo. Also known as Moody Mann it’s another mellow collection, albeit to my ears a less effective one than Soulville. It features the flautist using an alto flute on a few tracks, and, on one number, switching to bass clarinet.