Ben Webster & Joe Zawinul: Frog Legs
Soulmates (Riverside OJCCD 109-2)
Composed by Joe Zawinul.
Recorded: New York, 1963
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Though the pairing of Ben Webster and Joe Zawinul may at first seem odd, the two were friends and for awhile roommates around the time of this recording. "Frog Legs," dedicated to Ben, is a reminder that Zawinul wrote a lot of fine music in his pre-Weather Report days. The main melody is a 12-bar theme framed by a mysterious whole-tone-based intro and a declarative sendoff into the solos, which are on the blues in E flat. The tune is full of built-in rhythm breaks and mood shifts in the best Horace Silver tradition. Webster preaches soulfully, employing a nasty buzz-tone at times. Thad Jones's fine cornet solo begins with one of his patented out-of-left-field entrances. The rhythm section (also both surnamed Jones; none of the three Joneses here is related to another) performs up to the level that you would expect from these masters.
Reviewer: Kenny Berger