Tenor giant Davis teams up with organist Shirley Scott for a bluesy take on early soul...
Greg Boraman 2003
Eddie Lockjaw Davis was one musician who provided a link from the big band era through to the soul jazz phenomenon of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Cutting his teeth in the groups of Cootie Williams, Count Basie and Louis Armstrong in the 40s, Davis developed one of the most unmistakable tenor sax sounds in post war jazz.With afull bodied yet reedy tone that was equally at home in rhythm & blues settings as more modern contexts, his playing always had a direct, singing quality that was a huge influence on the next
generation of sax men.
This collection dates from 1958 - a period when hard bop & soul jazz were dominant in the contemporary jazz arena, and the roots of such music (the blues and gospel) are evident here. The inclusion of Shirley Scott's lightly swinging Hammond organ textures places this music at the very beginning of a movement that was to hold sway over the more populist end of jazz for the next 15 years.
Kicking off with "The Rev" in a suitably preaching style, Davis' horn and Scott's Hammond interweave a hard blowing, blues drenched slow groove. This is the kind of blues/jazz quartet that provided the good time soundtrack to black America's nights off all the way from Philadelphia to Chicago for many years.
The addition of Jerome Richardson's breathy flute adds a lighter tone to what could often become a slightly overwrought style. Interestingly enough both the Hammond organ and flute were still drawing
unfavorable artistic snipes from the established jazz intelligentsia of the time who felt that both instruments were lacking in genuine jazz expression.
The music within rarely accelerates above a walking tempo (with the exception of the sprightly swinging "The Broilers") but the rare lightness of touch Scott manages to coax from the often overbearing Hammond, combined with Richardson's flute (all under-pinned by George Duvivier's precise double bass figures) makes for a still refreshing listen.
45 years on from its recording, this collection not only highlights jazz's development up to this point but also signposts much of the direction it was to take in the following decade. This music was hardly groundbreaking when it was recorded, but the fact that it heralded the development of a genre that is still so influential today says much for its durability.