Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Underrated: Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (sax; b. 1921 - d. 1986)
The Complete Cookbook Sessions
(Originally released on Prestige, 1958; reissued in Europe on Solar Records; 2010)

Shirley Scott (organ)
Jerome Richards (flute, sax)
George Duvivier (bass)
Arthur Edgehill (drums)

Originally issued on Prestige Records as The Cookbook Sessions Vol. I-III, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis so story goes, nicknamed himself after one of his own songs (although he was also called Jaws and sometimes the Fox) is a highly underrated tenor player who recorded some smoldering sides over a ten year span between 1955 and 1965. His style was bold and blazing. Sometimes it felt like a tuba blowing through a bullhorn that's how incendiary his playing was.

Eddie Davis has a number of stellar albums which I highly recommend from the aforementioned period but The Complete Cookbook Sessions (Solar Records) is a nice place to start for the fun, infectious rhythms and superb performances.

The Complete Cookbook Sessions, are three legendary scorchers for fans of Eddie Davis and his quintet which also feature the indomitable, Shirley Scott on organ. Recorded during the summer and winter of '58 these sessions are killer and feature some corny but perfectly performed numbers such as "The Chef," "Simmerin'," "Heat N' Serve," and "The Boilers." But they also include some wonderful standards such as "But Beautiful," and "Willow Weep For Me." The secret weapon on these dates as it was for the entire tenure of this quintet is Shirley Scott. Shirley Scott ability to go from the electrifying opener on Vol.I, "Have Horn, Will Blow" to the gentle balladry tone of "Will Weep For Me" and "Body And Soul" is phenomenal.

The interplay and the effect Scott has on Davis' playing throughout this period is similar to Coltrane and Miles or Lennon and McCartney. They really brought the best out of each in studio and on stage. You can really feel the emotion in the entire band; not matter if its on in a slow romantic blues or boisterous hard bop--this group was tight and immensely entertaining.

The Complete Cookbook Sessions also includes two additional sessions (the albums Jaws and Smokin') recorded in fall between the second and third volumes of Cookbook show how the group took a stranglehold on standards such as "Pennies From Heaven," and "I Never Be The Same." Superb stuff that complements the Cookbook sessions well and is definitely appropriate to compile together.

While for jazz fans I would recommend a different Lockjaw Davis album, Trane Whistle (Prestige; 1960), I would have to say if you are looking for a truly entertaining session that captures the electricity and magnetism of Eddie 'Lockjaw" Davis, The Complete Cookbook Sessions is a great premier. A nice way to discover one of the unheralded tenor players of the late 50s and 60s. A must hear session.

This is a much later video but it does represent Eddie Davis big style nicely I thought.

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