Tuesday, May 11, 2010

for ben webster (10)

for ben webster
(1909 – 1973)

and i heard charlie parker for the first time & that
was quite a thrill. this guy scared me to death!
ben webster

what johnnie hodges was to the alto, u were in
spades to the tenor & when froggie went a’courting,
uh hunh, yr warm, breathy, sensual tone slickly slipped
like a tongue up under a stray hemline to caress
a fleshy thigh, make it surely shake with tremulous
waves of hurt-so-good need or turn brutish on a stomp,
ferally fecund, growling, rasping, rooted in the
blues. u were one of yr era’s three tenors, before
the sunrise of bebop, when the hawk & prez prowled the
bandstands seeking whom they might cut up. but when they tried
to cut u, they had to bring their lunch & dinner too.
u enjoyed a reign as king of the tenors, that is,
until bird came – then nothing else was ever the same.

© Joseph McNair;2010

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