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Arguably as tough a tenor as you'll ever hear.,
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This review is from: Cookbook 1 (Audio CD)
"Jaws" was arguably the baddest player of them all. Gentlemanly in appearance, as smooth-mannered as his suits were well-pressed, when it came time to shine, he had no equals. Often the clean-up hitter in a three or four-tenor line-up when I would catch him at one of Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase tenor battles, he could transform a mere cooking session into a full-scale Mardi Gras, taking the entire rhythm section on his shoulders and literally making them swing, often going immediately to his uniquely penetrating, sensually raw altissimo register, using it melodically, percussively and vocally--a volatile mix of exquisite melodies, mesmerizing riffs, and rapturous "testifying."
But Jaws didn't even require a blowing session to score with his rhetoric. Of all the tenor players I've heard perform live with the Basie band none played with more authority, technical command, and crowd- connecting communicativeness that Lockjaw. On the burners he "locked" into Sonny Payne's or Harold Jones's hi-hat, a rhythmic dynamo as much as an inventive melodic force, never wasting a note, so strong as to make a listener believe he alone was capable of carrying the entire band. On ballads his solos and fills were so expressively "vocalized" and attention-getting that on the classic "Sinatra at the Sands" album, the featured performer, sensing he might be upstaged by the tenor player, directs some humorous but unmistakably disparaging remarks toward Jaws during "I've Got a Crush on You."
The present RVG remaster captures Jaws at an optimal period of his career, 1958, before his restlessness led him to try booking, managing, producing, and everything but what he does best--working within the "lounge sound" genre of great tenor/Hammond B-3 ensembles. Shirley Scott, as usual, relies on a bass player for the recording session--and one of the best: George Duvivier. There's no question about her chops, but her drawbar registrations tend to favor some of the heavier textures used by earlier players--Wild Bill Davis, Milt Buckner--rather than the popular Jimmy Smith sound. As a result, the addition of Jerome Richardson's flute (to a B3 session!) is a welcome, inspired touch. All the same, if anyone can stand up to the big organ and still keep his own sound intact, it's Eddie Davis. Regardless of the fixin's surrounding the plate, there's never a question about who's serving up the haute cuisine when Jaws is in the kitchen.