Soulville by Ben Webster

Almost every Saturday at Audio Image, there’s always records to compare and deliberate over. It’s just that lots of records come through our store and the regulars have incredible collections themselves. This week features Soulville. The dust cover is all orange, and features the image of Ben Webster staring off into the distance, pondering.This we’re testing 3 issues of Soulville by Ben Webster. Three recordings are tested to find out which is better. These include:

1) The Japanese Verve issue WLP

2) The Original Verve Clef series trumpeter Label. 

3) The analogue  productions 45rpm reissue mastered by george Marino.

Who is the illustrious Ben Webster?

Ben Webster has an illustrious career as a Jazz musician. He started off learning about the violin and piano, before accumulating fame as a tenor saxophonist. He also played with the Oscar Peterson Trio. Webster and Ellington also worked on the band. He played as a soloist in the Duke Ellington Orchestra appearing on Cotton Tail.

However, he and Duke Ellington often had two largely opposing personalities and accounts recall that they would often end up fighting with each other. Clark Terry said that the reason for his departure was because he slapped Ellington. He finally left the band and cut off Duke Ellington’s Sports Jacket with a razor as one of his last acts as a member.

Other than the colorful theatrics, Webster went on to record his own music and recorded Soulville which was when he played with the Oscar Peterson Trio.

Allmusic describes it as one of the highlights of Webster’s Golden 50’s run. Each song is presented with plenty of emotion  and recorded in Los Angeles on 15 October 1957 with Levey, Peterson, Brown and Herb Ellis. The recordings themselves are moving, vivid and emotional works.

The moving jazz aside, how well did the different issues perform at bringing Ben Webster’s vision to life?

Shootout demo equipment


This includes the Audio Physic Avantera plus, along with the Soulution 330 Integrated Amplifier, TW Acustic Raven 2 with a 12 inch Graham Arm and Clearaudio Concerto V2. We're also using an AIME SEP-11 MC/MM multi curve phonostage.


Japanese Verve Issue WLP

The Japanese Verve Issue WLP is definitely a good find, with good dynamics and sound.


Original US Verve Clef series trumpeter label

The Original US Verve has a Trumpeter Label (that sticker in the middle of the record). It represents the very first pressing of the Verve Clef series. As one of our friends pointed out, “if there’s a trumpeter label next to the Verve label, that means you have the very first pressing of the Verve Issue.

As sound goes we thought the Original US Verve Clef Series Trumpeter Label sounded better than the Japanese Verve Issue WLP with great dynamics and space around each instrument. However, our copy sounded a bit noisy.


The Analogue Productions 45rpm Reissue

The Analogue Productions was quiet but retained the dynamics that was similar to the Original US Verve Clef. Altogether, this sounded better than the Japanese Verve Issue WLP and Original US Verve Clef Series Trumpeter Label. This was mastered by George Morino who was a mastering engineer.