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Sideman in the Spotlight


Saxophonist Doug Webb loves to play music. And, like most musicians, he loves to talk about it.

This ardor, coupled with an informed and sophisticated musicality, reaches beyond the bandstand, grabbing listeners and instilling a warm feeling in them.

Armed with such a beguiling approach, Chicago-native Webb naturally has been quite successful in the Los Angeles popular musical community. Although he's occasionally a leader, he works mostly as a sideman, for instance, offering spine-straightening bebop-based jazz with trumpet aces Doc Severinsen and Sal Marquez, working on the theme to TV's "Diagnosis Murder" with Lou Forestieri or on a Taco Bell commercial or playing a wedding with Larry Gootkin's casual band.

"I'm lucky to have the joy of music," the 38-year-old Los Angeles resident said. "I like playing for myself, and playing for people on all different levels and in different ways. I just try to make whatever record or song sound better. Whether I'm the artist or enhancing someone else's art, it's all good."

If pressed, Webb, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, will admit that jazz is closest to his heart. He'll deliver an aggressively appealing slant on traditional songs when he plays on Wednesday (and June 14 and 28) at Jax in Glendale with pianist David Goldblatt, bassist Dave Enos and drummer Bob Harsen.

The musicians, who have been rehearsing for a few months, will dig into reharmonized versions of such treasured tunes as "All the Things You Are," "Autumn Leaves" and "Sweet Georgia Brown."

The adaptations will be underpinned by the kinds of vigorous chord progressions that John Coltrane wrote for his now-classic tune, "Giant Steps."

"We're doing standards in a modern way, as might Trane, Chick Corea or Keith Jarrett," Webb said. "It's a fresh approach, but not at the expense of the music. It's great that the group has a sense of direction. You can do so much more when you've decided in advance how to begin a tune, or end it. This music is helping me by modernizing my ears."


Doug Webb plays Wednesday (and June 14 and 28), 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., at Jax, 339 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. No cover, no minimum. (818) 500-1604.

Bright Keys: Pianist Mitchel Forman, a versatile contemporary artist who has enlivened bands led by such luminaries as Wayne Shorter and Stan Getz, has a dandy new trio with two area notables--bassist Dave Carpenter and drummer Joel Taylor.

The men play intriguing, spirited jazz of today, available on Forman's new "Patience" CD and getting its public debut tonight at 10 p.m. at Rocco Ristorante (2930 Beverly Glen Circle, Bel-Air; $8 cover, no minimum. (310) 475-9807).


Zan Stewart writes about jazz for the Valley Edition. He can be reached at

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