The forerunner of this LP, Ben Webster’s "Soulville" (Verve MGV-8274) was extremely successful, even for Verve standards. It was only logical, therefore, to invite Ben to a further studio session in New York in July 1958. But for the recording of "The Soul Of Ben Webster", a completely different ensemble had been called together. The trumpeter Art Farmer - best known for Cool Jazz - along with Harold Ashby - a fellow musician from the Ellington crew - and the swinging rhythm group guarantee that 'Big Ben' (as he was known) didn’t lose his bearings during the superb harmonic progressions. "Chelsea Bridge", surely played in a thousand different ways by Duke Ellington’s orchestra, is a real gem even when performed by a small ensemble, as here.
All in all, this is a convincing medium-sized ensemble made up of remarkable protagonists whose improvisations are of the very highest calibre from beginning to end. And that opinion is still valid even 50 years later!