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The Best of Eddie Lockjaw Davis by Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis

Once upon a time, jazz musicians had nicknames: Zoot, Bean, Hawk, the Jeep, Fats, Wingy, Stuff, Klook, and so on. Howcum no more? That is a question for another time -- now is the time for Lockjaw, one of the finest, most distinctive tenor stylists jazz has ever produced. Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (1922-1986) was not an innovator, but a stylist firmly in the Coleman Hawkins/Ben Webster vein: breathy, sumptuous, the sound of an affectionate, burly bear-hug, albeit a bit rougher and craggier, almost closer to a blues/R&B honker (which is not a knock, btw). This particular Best of covers the recordings he made for Prestige in the late 50s & early 60s, many of which are firmly in the soul-jazz mold, that then-very popular amalgam of bebop, R&B and gospel. These tracks balance swing and proto-funk, with Jockjaw front & center -- what these tunes lack in subtlety, they more than compensate for in sheer, rollicking exuberance. There are a few tracks with more of a hard-bop orientation, including some small-ish big band arranged by Oliver Nelson. Though not generally considered a "soul-jazz" performer (I believe he's most famous for his hard-boppin' "tenor battles" with Johnny Griffin), ELJ most definitely contributed to the genre, as well as to the historical continuum of jazz as Saturday night, good-time/party music. Lastly, the version of "Body & Soul" herein is itself worth the price of admission.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis
  • CD Title: The Best of Eddie Lockjaw Davis
  • Genre: Soul / Funk Jazz
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Prestige
  • Musicians: E.L.J.: tenor sax; Shirley Scott: organ; George Duvivier: bass; Horace Parlan: piano; Oliver Nelson, Eric Dolphy, Jerome Richardson: reeds; others.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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