Besame Mucho – 1998

Benny Waters


The 96-year old altoist shows that he still had plenty of fire left

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Benny Waters (1902-98) was a major saxophonist and clarinetist in the 1920s, working next to Benny Carter in Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Ten.

He would have been much better known but he spent the 1952-92 period living and working in Europe.

While he originally played tenor and clarinet, in his later years Waters was an alto-saxophonist, displaying his own sound and a hard-driving style.

While often heard in classic jazz, Dixieland and swing settings, for this version of “Besame Mucho” from 1998, he is featured in a more mainstream group with pianist Alex Bally-Schlagzeug, bassist Jan Jankeje, and drummer Werner Lehner-Klavier.

Despite the premature cut off of the film, this is a memorable performance by an altoist who was both ancient and ageless.

-Scott Yanow


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