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Ben Webster’s Danny Boy

| January 23, 2013

The great Ben Webster.

The great Ben Webster.

Has there ever been a more sublime version of Danny Boy than Ben Webster’s? I doubt it. He was living in Copenhagen when he died in Amsterdam in September 1973, almost 10 years after deciding to quit his native grounds and live in Europe. His death warranted all of three paragraphs, cribbed from a UPI wire story, in The Times. He’d played with Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Cab Calloway, Norman Granz, Teddy Wilson, Benny Carter and Andy Kirk. He was overshadowed by the likes of Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, but only in his lifetime. Death has been kinder to his legacy. “Webster’s playing,” John Wilson wrote in an appreciation for The Times in 1986, “focused on two extremes. One was a raw, tough, swaggering drive that became overwhelming at fast tempos. The other was his ballad approach – tender, melting but with phrasing so accented that even at its gentlest and most introspective his playing swung. Using both aspects, he was completely at home in any musical circumstance.” Here’s his Danny Boy.

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3 Responses for “Ben Webster’s Danny Boy”

  1. "My Daily Rant" says:

    YES The Irish Tenors.

  2. NortonSmitty says:

    Thanks to incessant lobbying by the Music Industrial Complex, the Ben Webster version of Danny Boy seems to have been blocked due to copyright matters. While you stew in the fact that somebody actually had the stones to copyright a bedrock piece of ancient Irish tradition, as well as the fact our Toady’s in Washington gave them this power, let’s make the best of it. While we still can enjoy them, here are a few of the artists that put their personal touch on this beloved ballad. From Elvis to The Pogues, Roy Orbison to The Muppetts. As well as Jerry Lewis singing with The Osmonds and the US Coat Guard Big Band, enjoy it while you can.

    Danny Boy The Pogues Roy Orbison Sam Cooke Jackie Wilson George Benson Jerry Lewis & The Osmond Bros. Bill Evans Glenn Miller Paul Robeson Coast Guard Big Band Elvis Eric Clapton

    And last, but not least, The Muppetts

    Pick your tearjerker and enjoy.

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