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Here's Ben Webster playing on the timeless classic 'The Touch of Your Lips,' from Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson!

Ben Webster's Time and Feel

A fantastic opportunity to hear Ben Webster stretch out on this definitive medium swing feel, as played by one of the greatest rhythm sections ever recorded. The drum 'conga' groove played Ed Thigpen on 'The Touch of Your Lips' has become a famous in it's own right for drummers wishing to study how to definitively play and comp with this classic feel.

Listen to how Ben locks in with the rhythm section, matching his feel (swing spacing) perfectly with the ride cymbal. This creates a strong and consistent texture, a great platform for group interplay, melodic development and group interaction. When Ben plays across the beat with trilets and by stretching the time, this is a subtle way of dramatically increasing tension and effect. When playing the time stretches, listen to how Ben plays it and copy it exactly. It's impossible to accurately write this down.

Phrasing and Expression

Note Bends

Ben Webster uses an infinite variety of phrasing techniques to accentuate his melodic playing. Like a great vocalist he uses note bends and smears to create imaginative expressive effects - no two notes ever sound the same. Ben blends notes frequently with intervals of a tone or semitone. If the bend leads into the note, start a semitone or a tone below and gradually lift off your finger. You will feel a 'biting point' when the note bends. Practise finding this spot. You can use your lip to accentuate the bend, but the main work is done with fingering.

If the bend occurs at the end of a note, this is accomplished by a lip drop, bending the note downwards as it ends.


For intervals wider than a tone, you must coordinate the 'biting points' of several notes, like playing a scale. You can use your lip liberally during this process. You will need to acquire a feel for when to use your lip to smooth over note transitions, especially when going over the break. When doing a descending glissando, adding fingers is clumsier, so the lip will need to drop and lift to coordinate to create a smooth effect. Experiment with this to find that smooth sound that Ben plays so effortlessly.

Free PDF Downloads

Download full transcription for Tenor Saxophone
Download full transcription transposed for Alto Saxophone

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