Webster, Freddie, bebop-flavored jazz trumpeter; b. Cleveland, c. 1916; d. Chicago, April 1, 1947. He attended Central H.S. in Cleveland. As a teenager he led his own band, which included pianist Tadd Dameron, and also worked in a band led by saxist Marion Sears (brother of Al Sears). During 1938, Webster worked in bands led by Earl Hines and Erskine Tate. In 1939, he led his own band before moving to N.Y. He worked in several bands there, including stints with Benny Carter (early 1940; again autumn 1943), Ed Durham (later 1940), Louis Jordan (early 1941), Earl Hines (mid-1941), Lucky Millinder (autumn 1941 to spring 1942; autumn 1944 to winter 1945), Jimmie Lunceford (summer 1943), Sabby Lewis (spring 1944), and brief spells with Cab Calloway and George Johnson (summer 1945). Played in John Kirby’s Sextet for six months (c. August 1945). With Dizzy Gillespie (1946), Webster worked briefly with “Jazz at the Philharmonic ” (early 1947). He collapsed and died in a hotel room while preparing to work with saxist Sonny Stitt in Chicago.
Webster is a legendary figure cited as a favorite by Miles Davis and others. On the basis of his recordings he had a magnificent, big sound but was a somewhat awkward bop soloist.
Masters of Jazz, Vol. 5: Female (1931). EARL HINES AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Harlem Lament (1933); 1937-1939 (1937). LOUIS JORDAN: Let the Good Times Roll (1938); 1940-1941 (1940). JIMMY LUNCEFORD: 1941-1945 (1941). LUCKY MILLINDER: 1941-1942 (1941). BILLIE HOLIDAY: Complete Commodore Recordings (1939). BENNY CARTER AND HIS BAND: 1943-1946 (1943). DIZZY GILLESPIE: Good Jelly Blues (1944); Complementary Works, Vol. 5 (1945); You’reNot the Kind (1946). SARAH VAUGHAN: It’s You or No One (1946); Tenderly (1946); Time and Again (1946); Boston Bounce (1975). GEORGIE AULD & HIS BAND: In the Middle (1988); Handicap (1990). BENNY CARTER: Advanced Swing (1996); Jazz Profile (1997). BILLY ECKSTINE: 1944-1945 (1997). EARL HINES: Piano Man! (1995); Original Historic Recordings (1996); Rosetta (1996); 1941 (1996); Piano Man 1928-1955 (1998). LOUIS JORDAN: Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five (1995); Let the Good Times Roll: Anthology (1999).
—John Chilton/Lewis Porter