Joe Webb: Summer Chill

Lively session from Kansas Smitty pianist colours 50s/60s jazz and pop covers with hints of Marc Bolan and Hank Marvin


Pianist Joe Webb leads two trios and is also the resident pianist in Kansas Smitty’s House Band. This is his third album. He’d been watching some 50s-60s films during the lockdown and the idea was to create a soundtrack inspired by the era. The result contains smart interpretations of songs by LaVern Baker, Georgie Fame, Mel Tormé, Erroll Garner, Freddie Green, The Clovers, Cannonball Adderley and Elvis Presley along with two self-penned numbers.

The rock-heavy opener, Tweedle Dee, gets the party going with hefty piano and foot-tapping bass and drums. Although not from the appointed era, the number is given extra spice by insertion of a guitar riff recalling T. Rex’s Get It On. It’s followed by Comin’ Home Baby, the 1962 hit for Mel Tormé with the Cookies but here it’s given a Hank Marvin style guitar lead and a salsa shuffle.

In You Are My Sunshine, Webb delivers the melody line as it used to be before Ray Charles sang his version in 1962. He lets the bass take over the lead midway. Georgie Fame’s Yeah Yeah is given energetic Hammond treatment by Webb and has catchy guitar and driving Latin percussion. Money In The Pocket, recorded by Cannonball Adderley in 1966, is taken at a faster lick than the original. It has quicksilver drumming with Alex Haines’s guitar replacing Adderley’s alto.

Next are Webb’s two originals. Catalan Jumper, based on Marc Ribot’s Aqui Como Alla with piano lead, funky guitar and highly rhythmic beat then Errolesque (odd spelling), a tribute to Erroll Garner with lively Latin percussion and sweeping piano. Freddie Green’s Corner Pocket was recorded by Count Basie for his 1957 April In Paris LP. Here it’s a slick delivery with only piano, bass and drums. One Mint Julep, a 1952 hit for The Clovers, has Webb back on Hammond, raunchy sax from Fraser and the band in bossa-nova mode. Lastly and by way of contrast, Webb fades out the album with a touching version of Presley’s I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You on both piano and organ.

These are great tracks and first-rate musicians. Jason Rebello said “Joe is a great young pianist . . . go check him out!” I’m glad I did.

Tweedle Dee; Comin’ Home Baby; You Are My Sunshine; Yeah Yeah; Money In The Pocket; Catalan Jumper; Errolesque; Corner Pocket; One Mint Julep; I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You (34.18)
Fraser Smith (ts); Joe Webb (p, org); Alex Haines (g); Will Sach (b); Jas Kayser (d); Kitty Liv Durham, João Caetano (pc). 2022.
Ubuntu Music UBU0115