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Discussion Starter #1
I was having a discussion with my Sax teacher about equipment, and we both wanted to know which Sax/mp Ben Webster used to get that wonderfully open, soft sound that was his trademark.

Any ideas?

Cheers,

Mac
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the link, but I could only find info on Mouthpieces there. Do you know where I can find out which horn he played?

TIA

Fasnachtler
 

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a selmer balanced action and a otto link new york master link 4* but it was opened up to a .85 tip and #3 reeds and someone quoted him saying he liked his horns with leaks! whoah!! :line0: the biggest part of the websterian sound was that fast vibrato and airspeed and if you don't believe that listen closely on how ole' ben finished a note where you hear air surrounding it.
 

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another part of ole' Ben's sound was how he was also putting weight to his notes and shaping them with a mature concise manner. a lot of the delicacy of his balladry was a direct influence from former bandmate Johnny Hodges and a bit of the Pres floating thing in the air. Ben did learn to play sax after playing just stride piano for himself with the Young family; Lester Young's dad and sibling family band. not a very obvious influence but is there for sure. he may have been tagged the "Brute or Frog" but man he had a gentle soul and heart on his sleeve.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the excellent info! Is the BA a model of its own, or a subset of the Mark VI? Sorry to be so ignorant, I'm new to all of this stuff but really, really love playing! Ben Webster is one of my heroes, I love the way you can hear the air coming out of his Sax as well as the notes, although some of his early "Animal Noise" playing (like the Donkey noise, for instance) isn't my favourite. Still, you can forgive a genius that talented a few idiosyncracies...

Cheers,

Mac
 

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Fan,

BA = Balanced Action.

They were made from 'roughly' 1936 to 1947 and superceded the 'SSS' Selmer Super Sax models.

I Have a 1940 BAlanced Action Tenor.
 

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Fasnachtler,

This is a late reply, and not really an answer to your question. But i think you might find it interresting, i do at least ;)

Right now im reading the autobiografy of the danish tenor player Jesper Thilo (ISBN 87-614-0063-7, in danish i'm afraid), who played a lot with Ben Webster.
Thilo tells that Webster used to call his horn "Old Betsy", but no mention of its brand (but i guess its the BA above mentioned?). Also he tells that Betsy was getting kinda "loose" and therefore he had two horns from Selmer for tryout as replacement (no mentioning of model or year, but i'm guessing somewhat late in Webster carreer?). Ben chose his horn and Thilo bought the other.
At that time Ben gave Betsy's case to Thilo, who later gave it to a jazzmuseum in New Orleans lead by Dan Morgenstern. The case was there reunited with Old Betsy! And i guess you should be able to see both horn and case there.

But Thilo also has another story: when Ben Webster passed away in Holland, a painter there claimed that Ben had promised him his horn. And so he got it.
When the painter died, his wife contacted the Ben Webster Foundation in Copenhagen, because she wanted to get rid of the horn: The horn was playing by itself in the night, haunting the place...
guess this was the "new" horn and not Betsy, but still spooky i'd say!
 

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amg said:
The Institue of Jazz Studies at Rutgers say they have Ben Webster's BA (as well as Pres's Conn, and Don Byas's Dolnet).

See http://newarkwww.rutgers.edu/IJS/instrumentsB/
Thank you greatly for the terrific link! I have never seen this site before, and am delighted with the clear pictures of these legendary horns.
The story about Bens ghost playing the horn from the dead is indeed frightening. I have had a few experiences with ghosts (and I'm not talking about Hamlet's poor father, pun intended ;), and it is disturbing to say the least. Still, think of the possibilities for free sax lessons from the master! :D
 

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