20 September 2011

Doc Webster reminisces

Bill ”Doc” Webster was a find. He leads a band that he calls Jazz Nostalgia but it deserves weightier significance. Doc gives us authentic jazz history: from talking through the lyrics and their meanings and from stories around the songwriters and original performers. So when he plays the tunes they take on this extra weightiness and purpose amidst their joyous and entertaining performance. For Doc has a decent voice that he uses very well with his nicely warbling vibratos that end the lines and the gravelly Louis voice that he toys with and the nicely stretched high notes that he reaches with a pleasant strain, all matching with a tenor sax that he wields with a bluesy authority.

This night we heard of Louis Jordan and Saturday Night Fish Fries and raids by cops. Also Fats Waller and the link between music publication and the song What did I do to be so black and blue and the reason why If you’re a viper is so funny. Then on to crooners and Nat King Cole and Brian Eckstein and My foolish heart and Ray Charles and I got a woman out of the Negro spiritual, There’s a man going ‘round, countin’ names. Then Cole Porter and Anything goes and Route 66 and even Girl from Ipanema in a strange change from black American music.

This was all of an education, a humour routine and some nicely laid back music and singing. A great night and a memorable experience. Memorable also because I got to sit in, so my first West Coast performance, playing What’s new in Eb. Thanks to Doc for the offer and to bassist Leslie for the bass loan. And cheers to Sarah who I chatted to for the night. Bill ‘Doc’ Webster (voice, tenor) led Jazz Nostalgia with Vaughan Johnson (piano), Leslie Thorne (bass) and Doug Kassell (drums) at a very busy Les Joulins Jazz Bistro, San Francisco.

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