[31 January 2007]
Tenor saxophonist Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, at various times a sideman for Louis Armstrong and Count Basie, made his Prestige debut as bandleader on 1958’s The Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis Cookbook, Vol. 1. Davis’s combo was atypical at the time and, on occasion, still sounds like a curiosity today: in addition to George Duvivier on bass and Arthur Edgehill on drums, the quintet is rounded out by organist Shirley Scott and flautist Jerome Richardson, both unexpected but agreeable tonal ingredients to the record’s slick, simple tunes. There’s rock ‘n’ roll raunchiness in Davis’s throaty tone, especially on husky tunes like “Have Horn, Will Blow” and “The Chef”; he sounds most striking, however, on a ballad like “But Beautiful”, where the gruff exterior is tenderized with clear-headed grace. Scott is given plenty of room to spread out on the 13-minute “In the Kitchen”, where she splays greasy vamps atop the slow-simmering groove. Though it’s not exactly essential to a collection, The Cookbook, Vol. 1 is stylish, in-the-pocket fun, and a slight modification to otherwise usual expectations. This new reissue, part of the Rudy Van Gelder Remasters series, includes an alternate take of “But Beautiful” and “Avalon”, recorded at a different studio session later in the year.