Review Bob Rockwell Quartet "Bob's Ben"
| CD News | 2005-11-23
| THE SAX APPEAL OF BOB ROCKWELL|
I first met Bob Rockwell half-a-dozen years ago when he did a duo concert with the phenomenal jazz pianist Brian Kellock here in Edinburgh. I loved what I heard from Rockwell then; and Bob's Ben has not changed my opinion of him one whit.
He is a consummate musician with wonderful control and easy invention.
This album is a salute to tenorman Ben Webster, who gained fame with Duke Ellington throughout the 1940s. Webster's unique timbre - breathy and heartbreakingly emotive - has been copied by hundreds of sax players, but probably never paralleled. On the other hand, Bob Rockwell does a wonderful job of bringing the unique Webster sound to vivid life.
There are thirteen excellent tracks on the CD - from blues to ballads - and every number carries with it Mr Rockwell's fine sense of musical fluidity. But easily the best is the ballad That's All, not simply because Webster did possibly the definitive work on this number (you can hear what I mean on the CD Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson: Verve - 1959), but because Rockwell puts his heart and soul into the piece. And no man can do that without leaving a little of himself behind.
You are also in for a real treat with Rockwell's own composition Prelude for Ben. This number is redolent of the classic Ellington sound combined with the Webster feel. If you can listen to it without getting a little misty-eyed then you had better check your pulse!
Finally, I should mention the sensitive, graceful playing of sideman Ben Sidran on piano, bassist Billy Peterson, and Leo Sidran on drums. They lay down a gentle carpet of sound for Rockwell to play on; and he makes the most of it.
If you buy only one CD this year, you might be wise to make it Bob's Ben. It is a beautiful piece of work which, if there is any justice in this world, should stand as one of the indispensable mainstream jazz albums of this decade.