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Ladies Man by Teddy Edwards

Teddy Edwards is one of those stalwart players that’s oft-referred to as "underrated" - perhaps because he came out of - and stayed in, to some extent - the West Coast Scene. He was there at the inception of the birth throes of that strange new music that came to be known as bebop - Edwards was of the fertile mid-/late-1940s Los Angeles scene that featured Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Frank Rosolino and others, later getting into LA’s lucrative TV/film/session-scene. Like Lucky Thompson and Don Byas, Edwards took to this new thing straight away, yet kept the verities of Swing (benevolent humor, breathy ‘n’ romantic tone and, of course, swing). Through the many changes of jazz and popular music, he’s kept on truckin,’ kept true to his calling without being a stick in the mud. (Edwards once toured Europe as part of Tom Waits’ band, and Waits sang on Edwards’ Mississippi Lad disc.) The platter at hand, 2001’s Ladies Man, has the gimmick of all its tunes are women’s names - sharp, huh? Yet it makes no difference (and is prob’ly a smarter sales ploy that naming all the tunes after Three Stooges shorts) - this is a splendid slice of mainstream bebop, the best of its type I’ve heard in a while.

Sure, there’s nothing edgy about this session: play the melody, solo, this solo, that solo, melody again, and finish; many of the tunes are standards; these guys could play this stuff in their sleep - it looks like a million other mainstream/bebop albums until you listen. What grabs me the most about this session - aside from Edwards’ magnificent showing - is how utterly at-ease and assured the group is here, playing beautifully, affectionately like it’s no-big-deal but never cavalier or rote. And about Edwards: his sound is simply GORGEOUS, the choicest piece of chocolate in the box, with a shiny bittersweet coating around a luscious, creamy center. He has some of the Dexter Gordon Sound and a bit of the Ben Webster Sound, but he puts this - no other way to say it - "soft spin" on his tone; it’s sturdy and hearty but with a mellow breathiness to it, as if he’s drawing air in at the same time he moves it outward through his horn (a wee bit like Hank Mobley and Stan Getz). Edwards conjures evocations of some of jazz’s classic tenors yet sounds like no one else. Ronnie Matthews plays graceful, meat-&-potatoes piano (a la Tommy Flanagan or Red Garland), Chip Jackson plays strapping, sinuous bass and Chip White is a snappy, interactive, solid-sender-swinger of a drummer with his neat-o fills. The Clark Terry-like trumpet of Eddie Allen graces four tracks. Fans of The Man are not likely be disappointed, and younger listeners who want to check out a still-active tenor titan of the Old School should treat himself or herself to this.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Teddy Edwards
  • CD Title: Ladies Man
  • Genre: BeBop / Hard Bop
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: High Note
  • Rating: Five Stars
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