Doug Webb

Apples & Oranges

On Apples & Oranges, Doug Webb delivers an inspiring performance, particularly on the up-tempo tunes. The saxophonist, unlike many of his peers, adeptly balances intellect and emotion, each feeding, rather than overwhelming, the other. When improvising he generally stays connected to the spirit and occasionally to the letter of the tune; when he stretches out, it’s either for a momentary effect—a bit of overblowing or high-register squeals—or to stretch the harmonic implications of the changes, in Charlie Parker fashion. He also allows himself a lot of room for timbral exploration, echoing Pharaoh Sanders’ big, open tone on “Coruba,” but adhering to more of a mainstream sound on most of the other tracks.

That said, organist Brian Charette and drummer Andy Sanesi are the core of Apples & Oranges. The key to their synchronicity is Charette’s remarkable facility on the organ pedalboard. On up-tempos his eighth-note bass lines prowl and push, driving toward the next change, while laying down a rock-solid foundation for his own fills and solos, but especially for Sanesi’s nonstop, restless yet always tasteful extemporization. They’re always aware of each other: When the organ solo on “Forethought” builds to a three-note repetition, the drums keep the heat on high before signaling an end to this figure with a decisive fill and slap.

If not for some surprisingly nondescript renderings of standards—“Spring Is Here,” “In A Sentimental Mood,” “Estaté”—Apples & Oranges would be a flawless harvest and essential listening for all students of swing.