Buddy Terry - Natural Soul Natural Woman

Buddy Terry Natural Soul Natural Woman (Prestige 1968)

For Buddy Terry, natural soul is the music of the church, the street and John Coltrane.

Buddy Terry - Natural Soul Natural Woman

Personnel

Buddy Terry (tenor saxophone, flute), Joe Thomas (tenor saxophone, flute), Robbie Porter (baritone saxophone), Woody Shaw (trumpet, flugelhorn), Larry Young (organ), Jiggs Chase (organ), Wally Richardson (guitar), Jimmy Lewis (Fender bass), Eddie Gladden (drums), the Terry Girls (vocals)

Recorded

on November 15, 1967 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as PRLP 7541 in 1968

Track listing

Side A:
Natural Woman
Natural Soul (Sunday Go To Meetin’ Blues)
Pedro, The One Arm Bandit
Don’t Be So Mean
Side B:
The Revealing Time
Quiet Days And Lonely Nights


The legendary Prestige label had added soul jazz to its cutting-edge modern jazz catalogue in the early sixties. In fact, by putting numerous hi-profile advertisements of their stock in magazines like Downbeat, continuously stressing the ‘soul’ of Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Shirley Scott, Jimmy Forrest, Groove Holmes, Gene Ammons and many others, it was a deciding factor in the invention and popularization of soul jazz. By the late 60s, when interest in mainstream jazz dwindled, Prestige focused on funky, bluesy jazz in sync with contemporary popular music and its buying public. So you’d get the barroom organ blues of Sonny Philips or the mean, greasy tenor of Houston Person, who scored one of the last Prestige hits with Jamilah. And Prestige had signed tenor saxophonist Buddy Terry, who’d assisted organist Freddie Roach on Soul Book in 1966. Terry released his debut album as a leader, Electric Soul in 1968. You mean like, soul? In the late sixties, label boss and artists of Prestige still didn’t have to think twice about picking titles.

Buddy Terry had played in the organ groups of Rhoda Scott, Dee Dee Ford, Dayton Shelby and Larry Young and cooperated with Sonny Rollins and Johnny Coles. A couple of years were spent in the band of Lionel Hampton. For Natural Soul Natural Woman, the tough tenor with a ‘far out’ edge assembled his Newark, New Jersey pals – pleasant surprise! – Larry Young, Woody Shaw and Eddie Gladden, weathered cats like tenorist and flutist Joe Thomas, as well as the so-called Terry Girls on vocals – perhaps including the beautiful lady on the front cover? So then you get Don’t Be So Mean, a lurid boogaloo tune with a tacky twist, absolutely the album’s highlight. You get Pedro, The One Arm Bandit, obscure folk music jazzed up upliftingly, following the path Rollins famously paved.

You get Natural Woman, Aretha Franklin’s anthemic soul ballad, that features the Terry Girls and Buddy Terry hollering mercy, mercy; Quiet Days And Lonely Nights, a solid ballad. And finally, The Revealing Time, a mid-tempo blues that passes the 11-minute mark, ample opportunity to stretch out for Terry and Young. Woody Shaw only has short bits of solo space. Honestly, the brilliant, last great innovator of the trumpet’s worthwhile statements are overshadowed by rather lackluster, staccato ad-libs. Sleepy, perhaps.

Buddy Terry, on the other hand, is spry as the cow that line-dances onto the field in Spring. He’s a minister arousing the flock. And a captain of the Enterprise reaching out to the aliens around the Ring of Saturn. His dirty playing style and harmonic sophistication brings to mind Eddie Harris. Buddy Terry took matters in his own hands and also provided the liner notes to his album of raucous soul jazz. A curious mix of bio and exegesis. Terry states: “The entire album is my song of praise to God.”

Hallelujah time well-spent.

Oliver Nelson, King Curtis & Jimmy Forrest - Soul Battle

Oliver Nelson, King Curtis & Jimmy Forrest Soul Battle (Prestige 1960)

Oliver Nelson had a knack for interesting parings of horns and Soul Battle is a seriously entertaining combination of the differing tenor styles of Nelson, Jimmy Forrest and King Curtis.

Oliver Nelson, King Curtis & Jimmy Forrest - Soul Battle

Personnel

Oliver Nelson (tenor saxophone), Jimmy Forrest (tenor saxophone), King Curtis (tenor saxophone), Gene Casey (piano), George Duvivier (bass), Roy Haynes (drums)

Recorded

on September 8, 1960 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as PRLP 7223 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Blues At The Five Spot
Blues For M.F. (Mort Fega)
Anacruses
Side B:
Perdido
In Passing


It is easy to overlook the beauty of a saxophonist’s voice and hi-level playing style when the player in question is also known, perhaps better-known, through his exceptional work as a writer and arranger. Benny Golson is a case in point. Oliver Nelson certainly qualifies. Evidently, he was a renowned arranger of his own work but mostly of other artists like Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley, Wes Montgomery and Jimmy Smith. His body of work as a writer is comprehensive and filled with gems, the achingly beautiful Stolen Moments serving as his undisputed masterpiece.

Obviously, Blues And The Abstract Truth, his album on Impulse from 1960 which included Stolen Moments and featured Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard and Roy Haynes, is a stone-cold classic and a perennial favorite among teachers at conservatories around the world. Standard subject matter. Straight Ahead isn’t such an indelible part of the curriculum, undeservedly. It’s an essential date on par with Abstract. Strikingly, Nelson’s Prestige albums of this period, which began in 1959 with Meet Oliver Nelson, consist of a thoroughly convincing effort to interpret the blues. Oh boy, his gelling with Dolphy – Dolphy playing Charlie Parker backwards, flying out there, Nelson more modern in the conventional sense, plaintive yet forceful – is truly something else.

Soul Battle precedes Blues And The Abstract Truth and Straight Ahead, which were recorded in the winter of 1961. If the latter albums are blues-based recording sessions that are simultaneously spontaneous and proof of careful preparation, Soul Battle is best described as a relaxed but driving, good-old blowing session. Count your blessings, this is a tenor battle royale! We have Nelson, employing a tone that often touches the alto register, on the hunt for ideas all the time, finding them too, carefully placing them in orderly fashion yet eager to move on, light-footed like a deer in the wild…

Then there’s Jimmy Forrest. Forrest goes way back, played on the riverboats of Mississippi with Fate Marable, with Duke Ellington, became an overnight r&b one-day-fly with Night Train in 1952 (a tune that was based on Duke Ellington’s Happy-Go-Lucky-Local), played with St. Louis pals Miles Davis and Grant Green and spent a big part of the seventies in the band of Count Basie. He’s putting some serious jazz history in a session like this. Take a listen to Blues For M.F., an excellent jump blues that has Nelson taking first solo, expertly so. Then Forrest hits four B.I.G. archetypal notes straight from Coleman Hawkins and suddenly Roy Haynes falls into a pocket… and an even deeper groove that was already developed is a fact… We have King Curtis, the r&b-star. However, lest we forget, King Curtis was a solid jazz player. His hard-edged tone, sleazy phrasing and fervent wails present a nice contrast with Nelson and Forrest’s subsequent modern and rootsy concepts.

Nelson’s story of Anacuses, one of four Nelson originals on Soul Battle – Juan Tizol’s Perdido the exception – has the passion and intensity of Coltrane, the hard-boiled flexibility of Joe Henderson and the direct emotional impact of Booker Ervin. Take that! A thorough dive into Oliver Nelson’s discography will find many exceptional moments, he’s truly one of the greatest saxophonists of his generation.

Freddie McCoy - Lonely Avenue

Freddie McCoy Lonely Avenue (Prestige 1965)

Rousing cookers, balanced ballads and smoothly swinging popular songs: Freddie McCoy’s Lonely Avenue reflects the vibraphonist’s deep-rooted understanding of the blues and swing-based jazz tradition.

Freddie McCoy - Lonely Avenue

Personnel

Freddie McCoy (vibraphone), Gil Askey (trumpet, arranger), Tate Houston (baritone saxophone), Dickie Harris (trombone B1-4), James Thomas (organ), Napoleon Allen (guitar A1-4), Martin Rivera (bass), Ray Lucas (drums)

Recorded

on January 25 & February 16 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as PRLP 7395 in 1965

Track listing

Side A:
Lonely Avenue
Roëll
Collard Greens
When Sunny Gets Blue
Side B:
Harlem Nocturne
Willow Weep For Me
Belly Full Of Greens
Feeling Good


Freddie McCoy, born in New York City in 1932, assembled a big crew to create the soulful canvas of his debut album on Prestige in 1965, Lonely Avenue. The coupling of vibes with trumpet, baritone sax, trombone, organ and guitar proved to be a remarkably flexible unit, both mean/funky and contemplative, which also, perhaps not entirely coincidentally, is a description of Freddie McCoy’s musical personality. The vibraphonist generates a lot heat but at the same time his playing is marked by a relaxed flow. Easygoing fellow but he’s not going to let you eat his lunch. One of few vibraphone players that focused on groove and grease. Yes, there’s a blues-drenched bit of Milt Jackson, without the dazzling technique of the God Of Vibes. And yes, there’s a bit of entertainment value that was inherent to the personality of pioneer Lionel Hampton, but the circus has left town before the roar of the lion. Freddie McCoy was more concerned with the kind of soul time that worked as a magnet for workers from all over the hood. Punch the clock, hurry home, slip into some shiny slacks and let’s hear it for the real mccoy’… Once settled in some upper Harlem joint, they shake their hips, shake their asses, shake their heads in amazement at the sight of this slick dude sweating it out behind that weird steel frame. Mallet boogie.

Plenty of warhorse and pop song for that kind of customer: When Sunny Gets Blue, Willow Weep For Me, Harlem Nocturne, Feeling Good. McCoy’s Roëll is a lovely ballad, his take on the Doc Pomus tune Lonely Avenue, best-known through the classic r&b version of Ray Charles, is super-soulful and the album’s crackerjack cookers, Collard Greens and Belly Full Of Greens, would serve well as background tracks for the volatile Ike & Tina Turner. Want some mean greens? Yes please, why not? Beats crème bruleé.

Freddie McCoy began to play the vibraphone in the Army in 1958 and subsequently played with Kenny Burrell, Johnny “Hammond” Smith, Philly Joe Jones and Doug Watkins. Following his debut, McCoy enjoyed a good stretch on Prestige, which released six albums between 1966 and 1968, focusing more and more on r&b and funk-ish ditties. Before he went off the radar, his last album Gimme Some was released by Cobblestone in 1971. Freddie McCoy was also a flight instructor who owned his own plane. No doubt he made some soulful maneuvers in that little booger.

Freddie McCoy passed away in 2009.

Ted Curson - Fire Down Below

Ted Curson Fire Down Below (Prestige 1963)

Ted Curson revealed himself as a breathtaking interpreter of rarely performed standards on his second album as a leader in 1963, Fire Down Below.

Ted Curson - Fire Down Below

Personnel

Ted Curson (trumpet), Ronnie Matthews (piano), George Tucker (bass), Roy Haynes (drums), Montego Joe (congas)

Recorded

on December 10, 1962 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as PRLP 7263 in 1963

Track listing

Side A:
Fire Down Below
The Very Young
Baby Has Gone Bye Bye
Side B:
Show Me
Falling In Love With Love
Only Forever


Interesting species, the type that switches smoothly from mainstream to avant surroundings. Perhaps because the type realizes that avant is a hollow shell without a link to the roots? Trumpeter Ted Curson felt comfortable in both spheres. Curson, who was born in Philadelphia in 1935, matured during the period when hard bop was developed from bop, blues and gospel. In 1955, Miles Davis stimulated Curson to move to New York City. Curson, a thoroughly schooled modern jazz player, played with avant-gardist Cecil Taylor around the turn of the decade, appearing on Taylor’s 1959 album Love For Sale.

In 1960, Curson joined the group of Charles Mingus. He appeared on four Mingus albums: Mingus, Mingus Revisited, Mingus At Antibes and Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus. A lot of Mingus. Well, Mingus could never be accused of austerity. The experience of Curson of playing with Mingus and sharing the frontline with Eric Dolphy left an indelible impression. After the passing of Dolphy – the reed and woodwind giant died of a diabetic seizure in Berlin on June 29, 1964 – Curson wrote Tears For Dolphy, a beautiful melody and Curson’s masterwork. A big part of Curson’s career was spent in Europe to much acclaim. He passed away in 2012.

The title of Curson’s Atlantic album from 1963, The New Thing & The Blue Thing, speaks volumes about his jazz personality. Preceding it, Curson debuted with Plenty Of Horn on the Old Town label in 1958. The follow-up, Fire Down Below, is the LP that begs to be added to the ever-growing mainstream jazz collector’s record cabinet. Curson is assisted by pianist Gildo Mahones, bassist George Tucker, drummer Roy Haynes and percussionist Montego Joe. It is testimony to the enormous wealth of standards that Curson could pick a whole set of rarely performed songs, excluding the well-known Hart/Rodgers composition Falling In Love With Love. Of the lesser-known tunes, Fire Down Below, The Very Young and My Baby Has Gone Bye Bye are gems of the first order.

The Carribean rhythm of Lee/Washington’s Fire Down Below is sustained throughout, eschewing a 4/4 release, which is hypnotizing, you feel the splendid exotic groove in your body, soul, toes. And your ass will be wiggling before you know it! Haynes draws on his Afro-Bop legacy from the late 40s, Gildo Mahones chimes in with a lively, percussive story that pretty much comes natural, considering his upbringing by parents of Puerto-Rican descent. Montego Joe had roots in Jamaica. Curson sounds pretty Carribean too.

Little/Sacker’s The Very Young is a beautiful blues ballad. Curson plays it like a song, holding notes like he’s telling it like it is, the feeling is overwhelming and his tart sound elevates it to a bittersweet symphony. Perfect pitch, the duality of bended notes that refer to both the moan of the country blues performer and the yowl of the country singer, plus the striking clear lines Curson sustains, complete the architecture of this brilliant performance. Clearness of line and orderly placing of phrases also mark the mid-tempo Allen/Roberts tune Baby Has Gone Bye Bye. Trumpet as good as it gets, like someone breathing, without effort, no strain. Curson’s heart is big and soft and beckoning for everyone to come and dance, rejoice, and praying for his people to overcome, overcome. Cherish the album that runs a mere 31 minutes with three such performances. Length of time is not the essence!

Eddie Chamblee - The Rocking Tenor Sax Of Eddie Chamblee

Eddie Chamblee The Rocking Tenor Sax Of Eddie Chamblee (Prestige 1964)

Party time with Eddie Chamblee.

Eddie Chamblee - The Rocking Tenor Sax Of Eddie Chamblee

Personnel

Eddie Chamblee (tenor saxophone), Dayton Shelby (organ), Al Griffin (drums)

Recorded

on February 27, 1964 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as PRLP 7321 in 1964

Track listing

Side A:
The Honeydripper
You’ll Never Walk Alone
Softly, As I Love You
Bye Bye Blackbird
Side B:
Champin’
Skang!
Soon
Little Things Mean A Lot


Eddie Chamblee was born in Atlanta in 1920. He was the featured tenorist on Sonny Thompson’s big hits Long Gone and Late Freight and played in the groups of Lionel Hampton, Cozy Cole, Amos Milburn, T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson, Machito and singer Dinah Washington, with whom Chamblee was married for a short period. While leading his own groups, the tenor saxophonist played on r&b and doowop tunes, notably by The Diamonds and The Drifters. The liner notes writer of The Rocking Tenor Sax mentions two funny details. Firstly, Chamblee is the tenor saxophonist that the viewer notices standing beside Brigitte Bardot in Roger Vadim’s movie And God Created Woman. Secondly, Chamblee performed at the Inaugaration Party of President Eisenhower in 1956. If you had to choose between one of these supporting roles, which one would it be? Rejoining Hampton in the eighties, Chamblee was further associated with Milt Buckner and Count Basie. Chamblee passed away in 1999.

Prior to his affiliation with Prestige, Chamblee recorded two albums for EmArcy, Chamblee Music and Doodlin’. The Rocking Tenor Sax is Chamblee’s only album as a leader in the sixties. The title is a great reflection of the kind of roaring live gigs one could experience in those days. It isn’t live-in-performance but it feels that way. Obviously, the legendary engineer Rudy van Gelder at work here, beware that no one took notice of his innovative recording methods, rarely invited neighbours, relatives or friends. Would’ve been one hell of a party.

Soul jazz grew out of swing, r&b and modern jazz. Generally speaking, it was an Afro-American phenomenon, a type of music that was enjoyed in clubs and bars around the country but particularly popular in the Mid-West. Though there’s no mistaking that most players had a solid background in modern jazz, (by the way, part of the work of giants of jazz like Cannonball Adderley or Sonny Stitt is also categorized as soul jazz – Adderley’s Jive Samba was a big hit) entertainment was key. Soul jazz was, first and foremost, accessible, finger-poppin’, foot-tappin’, hip-shakin’ music for a night out into town. The pioneering, relatively small independent record companies presented a catalogue of blues, ballads, American songbook and popular tunes – groove music. Prestige, Blue Note and Argo/Cadet possessed a good distribution network and carried their stock to radio stations and the jukebox circuit, hoping for a hit record or single. A hit didn’t necessarily have to be an original composition. There are many examples of interpretations of hits by artists which also turned into big sellers. The Honeydripper, the opening cut from Eddie Chamblee’s Prestige album is a case in point. It was a hit for the original writer, Joe Liggins. Soon after, Roosevelt Sykes made a successful version. The take on the contagious r&b melody by Eddie Chamblee didn’t lead to skyrocketing sales. But no doubt, his rousing version blows the roof off the joint.

Said Honeydripper has Chamblee climaxing early but not necessarily too soon, if you know what I mean. Chamblee’s got plenty of juice, honking his way through the choruses and the rocking 4/4 bottom that drummer Al Griffin provides. Chamblee alternates growls with screeching high notes, a specialty that Chamblee demonstrates on other tunes on the album as well. There goes Van Gelder’s Delft Blue tableware. Chamblee shows no signs of fatigue, providing effective swing riffs behind organist Dayton Shelby, who’s quite the musical rebel rouser himself.

It’s easy to imagine Chamblee’s trio perform at one of the dingier clubs on The Street. Some colorful cat offers a beauty a drink, the chatter of customers pierces little holes in the cigarette smoke clouds… And Chamblee bounces through his original tunes Champin’ and Skang!, the former a sleazy jump blues, the latter a slow, down-home blues. There’s the hard rock (like, hard rock) of Bye Bye Blackbird, courtesy of the bulldozer drum patterns by Al Griffin. And while Softly As I Leave You is a pretty sapless attempt to balladeer gent and dame into the French Kissin’ zone, embellished by lachrymose organ playing, Soon finds a soft spot in the heart. The Gershwin composition is gracefully marked by Chamblee’s velvet yet peppery lines and beautifully inflected notes. Here Chamblee has reached a synthesis between suppleness and groove. Soon is the highlight of The Rocking Tenor Sax Of Eddie Chamblee, but it can’t hurt to keep the remainder of the repertory in mind for a house party. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Listen to the full album on YouTube here. And to Eddie Chamblee on Spotify below:

Leon Spencer Jr. - Sneak Preview

Leon Spencer Jr. Sneak Preview (Prestige 1970)

If you like your groove greasy as kidney stew and gritty as a walk with dinosaurs on a gravel path, Leon Spencer Jr.’s Sneak Preview is the way to go.

Leon Spencer Jr. - Sneak Preview

Personnel

Leon Spencer Jr. (organ), Grover Washington Jr. (tenor saxophone), Virgil Jones (trumpet), Melvin Sparks (guitar), Idris Muhammad (drums), Buddy Caldwell (conga)

Recorded

on December 7, 1970 at Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as PR 10011 in 1971

Track listing

Side A:
The Slide
Someday My Prince Will Come
Message From The Meters
Side B:
First Gravy
5-10-15-20
Sneak Preview


The Slide will take you for a ride. Leon Spencer’s opening tune, just like his album on which it was presented early in 1971 on the Prestige label, Sneak Preview, is a vintage gritty Hammond B3 killer. Recorded at Rudy van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Van Gelder not only shaped modern jazz with his engineering for Blue Note and other labels, he was also a fundamental force in making organ jazz an viable musical experience and an accessible, marketable product, initially through his cooperation with Jimmy Smith in 1956. Managing to tame the monster machine’s belligerent tendencies and bringing to the fore crisp, clear lines while retaining the church-rooted feeling, sonority and indomitable oscillating sounds, Van Gelder set the standard for future engineers to follow. In the late sixties and early seventies, RVG was still at it, taking care of virtually all the Prestige funk jazz releases.

Such as Sneak Preview, the sound of molasses, chili in a bowl and ham-on-rye on master tape, which is transferred to the black gold that is still to be enjoyed here and now, in 2018, preferably on original wax, though the OJC reissue is doing a job well done, thank you. Forget the screen of your iPhone for a minute, put the disc on the turntable, kick yourself into gear and slide into the world of sensual, chubby thighs exposed at the stools of sleazy, sweaty bars, of hallelujahs shouted from tiny BBQ joints, of the unstoppable toes that wear out the streets of Baltimore, Harlem’s Lenox Avenue, the wooden floors of Lenny’s-On-The-Turnpike until nothing’s left but dusty remains not unlike the bones of long-gone Victorian maidens… Chill. Zen And The Art Of Turntable Maintenance.

Leon Spencer Jr. gets you to that place. Spencer’s discography is rather concise, but the level of excellence and deep groove is on par with contemporary colleagues like Lonnie Smith and Charles Earland. Spencer came into prominence a few years later. He was born in Houston, Texas in 1945, started out on piano and performed with his friend David “Fathead” Newman as a young man. Spencer studied engineering at Texas Southern University and the University Of Houston and subsequently toured with Army bands. Like many organists, he took up the organ after seeing Jimmy Smith and soon backed Peggy Lee and Lou Rawls. He made his debut in 1969 on guitarist Wilbert Longmire’s Revolution album on World Pacific while living in Los Angeles. Spencer played on guitarist Melvin Sparks’ Sparks and was featured on Lou Donaldson’s Pretty Things album on Blue Note in 1970, which made his reputation as a bonafide jazz funkateer. After Sneak Preview, Spencer would perform on another Donaldson album, Cosmos, another Sparks album, three Sonny Stitt albums and Rusty Bryant’s Fire Eater. As a leader, Spencer followed up Sneak Preview with Louisiana Slim, Bad Walking Woman and Where I’m Coming From.

Sneak Preview used the same line up as Sparks. And the group would work together on Stitt’s Turn It On as well. Some of the members had already cooperated here and there, like Muhammad, Virgil Jones, Melvin Sparks and Buddy Caldwell on Muhammad’s Black Rhythm Revolution on November 2, 1970, or Muhammad, Jones and Sparks on Rusty Bryant’s Soul Liberation on June 15, 1970. I’ve grown accustomed to your face… Standard Prestige procedure (and Blue Note, of course, for that matter): The more tight-knit a group of like-minded fellows and dames become, the smoother the session will develop. This group, consisting of Spencer, trumpeter Virgil Jones, tenor saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., guitarist Melvin Sparks, drummer Idris Muhammad and conga player Buddy Caldwell, has no trouble getting to the nitty-gritty before the lights go out. Idris Muhammad’s drive, as usual, is relentless. There really can be no end to the amazement for the listener of Muhammad’s snappy single snare strokes before-the-one and his firm accompaniment with bass pedal, hi-hat and cymbal. We hear Grover Washington before the saxophonist hit the big time with smooth jazz in the early seventies, and he’s keeping it real and rootsy. And small wonder that A&R man Bob Porter regularly called Virgil Jones for sessions like these, he’s virile, acute, excellent. Virgil Jones is a player who’s all but forgotten, undeservedly.

The group performs Spencer’s funky blues The Slide, shuffle groove First Gravy and the tacky, modal vamp Sneak Preview, Someday My Prince Will Come, the hit from The Presidents 5-10-15-20 and a funk groove from The Meters, Message From The Meters. The latter’s the highlight, a crazy funky affair with intense storytelling from Spencer. Spencer’s bass work (presumably a mix of left hand and a bit of feet) is striking, not only during Message, but also during the popsoul gem 5-10, weaving snappy lines in the middle register into the mix.

Leon Spencer passed away in 2012.

Listen to the full album on YouTube here

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis - Cookbook

Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis Cookbook (Prestige 1958)

Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Shirley Scott pass the peas back and forth on their soul jazz hit album Cookbook.

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis - Cookbook

Personnel

Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis (tenor saxophone), Shirley Scott (organ), Jerome Richardson (flute A1-3, B1, B3, tenor saxophone B2), George Duvivier (bass), Arthur Edgehill (drums)

Recorded

on June 20, 1958 at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey

Released

as PRLP 7141 in 1958

Track listing

Side A:
Have Horn, Will Blow
The Chef
But Beautiful
Side B:
In The Kitchen
Three Deuces
Avalon


Before DJ and promoter Alan Freed coined the term ‘rhythm & blues’ in the advertisements for his groundbreaking package shows in 1947, rendering it commonplace almost immediately, ‘race’ music was the general term for black popular music. Most likely, black musicians like Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis weren’t very focused on labels as ‘race’, swing and r&b, as long as their efforts led to the required financial rewards to pay their bills and put bread on the table. Davis played with Cootie Williams, Louis Armstrong and Count Basie in the early forties (throughout his career, Davis would have extended stints with Basie) and churned out jump-and-jivin’ honk-fests for labels like Savoy and Apollo for the rest of the decade. Meanwhile, the ‘new’ jazz created by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke was labeled ‘bebop’. It is usually overlooked, but Davis mingled smoothly with the pioneering crew, functioning as MC on the bandstand of Minton’s Playhouse, not without adding his brand of tough tenorism, lest we forget. He also cooperated extensively with Sonny Stitt during the fifties.

In the mid-fifties, Davis recorded a number of albums with organist Shirley Scott on King, Roulette and Roost that were well-received by the small circle of admirers of the hard-working group on the ‘chitlin’ circuit’, the network of clubs in the nation’s black neighbourhoods. Few could foresee the succes of their subsequent recording on Prestige. The fact that Prestige, securing better distribution deals and more airplay, immediately re-issued Cookbook as Cookbook Vol.1 and subsequently also released Vol.2 and Vol.3 gives a good idea of the group’s popularity at that time. Their attraction, nonetheless, also faded fairly quickly and soon after Davis formed a more ‘hard bopping’ partnership with fellow combative tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin on the Riverside label from 1960 to 1962.

It is rather amazing, in hindsight, that a long slow blues like their take on Johnny Hodges’ In The Kitchen (12:53 minutes, although obviously, Jerome Richardson’s solo was deleted for the purpose of the length of a 7inch) turned out to be the group’s big jukebox hit. There’s no use getting trapped in the web of nostalgia and romanticizing. But one can easily imagine black folks tapping their feet and slightly shaking their hips while the sounds of In The Kitchen reverberate against the wall of a BBQ joint at the corner of 110th Street and Lexington Avenue. As Charles Bukowski wrote: Style is a way of doing, a way of being done. You might want to let this sink in while opening another bottle of Chateau de Catpiss.

It means that the Afro-American citizens of the post-war years possessed a hip musical taste. As people who’ve lived to tell occasionally have revealed, it wasn’t uncommon to comment among themselves on music of both Jackie Wilson and Ramsey Lewis, both Louis Jordan and Gene Ammons. Although soul jazz wasn’t complex jazz, it also wasn’t as ‘primitive’ as sometimes assumed. Moreover, it had a social function, as people shared their enthusiasm on nights out into town, eager for solid, funky entertainment. With the introduction of crack and the subsequent disintegration of the neighborhoods in the early seventies, the cohesive force of music received a big blow.

Shirley Scott’s solo on In The Kitchen seems filled with her memories of the sermons she attented in her youth. More like her forefathers Milt Buckner and Wild Bill Davis than modernist Jimmy Smith, Scott focuses on riffs and a theatre/accordion-type sound. Then it’s Lockjaw’s turn. Initially, Davis noodles age-old blues licks with a low-volume, breathy sound, but he progressively speaks up more forcefully and finally his howls take over the recording studio of Rudy van Gelder in Hackensack, New Jersey. One of the pleasures of playing with “Lockjaw” must’ve been that his imposing sound and scabrous style effectively pushes a group forward. Stimulated considerably, Jerome Richardson delivers a blues-drenched flute solo with a remarkable ‘singing’ tone and some rugged tongue-effects.

It may not be surprising, considering the regular working schedule of the Davis/Scott outfit at the time, that there are more tunes on Cookbook that are full of delicate interaction and rock-solid swing. The fast-paced Avalon runs smoothly, both “Lockjaw” and Richardson’s balladry of But Beautiful is tender as well as meaty and the three uptempo songs The Chef, Have Horn, Will Blow and Three Deuces (presumably titled after the club on ‘The Street’ – 52nd Street, NYC – and with a rousing feature of Jerome Richardson on tenor) are first-class potboilers. Davis unites the terse swing of Ben Webster and a bit of Webster’s vibrato with deceptively nonchalant phrasing, freely and playfully making use of slurs, barks and husky honks. His way of stringing together lines sometimes has a peculiar, otherwordly quality. Like someone is spinning backwards a sax solo on the turntable. At the same time, Lockjaw sounds as if he has to scrub the dirt of his shoes every time he returns home from a gig. Mutually stimulating contrasts, resulting in an unforgettable kind of sax poetry.