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Ben Webster: “Old Folks”

The comments to the above clip point out that Ben Webster clearly is crying after Teddy Wilson’s piano solo. The explanation provided — there is no way to verify it, of course — is that Johnny Hodges, with whom Webster had played in Duke Ellington’s band, had just passed away.

Everything Webster played was beautiful. One story that I read in more than one place is that when Webster began rehearsing a song that had lyrics he would learn those words in order to play them on his sax.

Here is C-Jam Blues, Chelsea Bridge and Over the Rainbow. The New Yorker did a piece on Webster about ten years ago. Basic biographical information and discographies can be found on many sites dedicated to Webster, including these two.

A special acknowledgement is due to the JazzVideoGuy, who initially posted a lot of these clips and others that I use. He does a terrific job of, well, doing what his name says.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.