DAVE DAVIES, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and organist Shirley Scott had one of the great jazz partnerships in the late 1950s. A new anthology focuses on their "Cookbook" series of albums recorded over a six-month period. Here's Kevin's review.
(SOUNDBITE OF EDDIE "LOCKJAW" DAVIS AND SHIRLEY SCOTT'S "HEAT 'N SERVE")
KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: "Heat 'N Serve" from a new roundup of tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis' 1958 "Cookbook" sessions with organist Shirley Scott. The set "Cookin' With Jaws And The Queen" celebrates the inexhaustible power of the blues. They play a bunch of fast, medium and slow blues in seven keys that leave you hungry for still more. This collection also celebrates a musical partnership then two years old. Lockjaw was the horn man with a sizzling tone and swagger. Scott would swoop in behind him with dramatic gestures and perfect timing.
(SOUNDBITE OF EDDIE "LOCKJAW" DAVIS AND SHIRLEY SCOTT'S "HIGH FRY")
WHITEHEAD: The Hammond B3 organ exploded as a jazz instrument in the late 1950s, not least in Shirley Scott's Philadelphia. She stood out with an adventurous color sense, dramatic fluctuations in volume and that drummer's incisive timing. Scott exploited the electric organ's key click, that tiny percussive snap when a note is struck that jazz musicians love but engineers work to eliminate.
(SOUNDBITE OF EDDIE "LOCKJAW" DAVIS AND SHIRLEY SCOTT'S "SMOKE THIS")
WHITEHEAD: Music from the four-disc set "Cookin' With Jaws And The Queen: The Legendary Prestige Cookbook Albums." Some of these sides by Lockjaw Davis and Shirley Scott were issued as 45s from the Black neighborhood jukebox trade. They include some striking slow ones with lots of reverb to really lend a barroom some atmosphere. On "The Rev," tenor saxophone targets your ears like a Stinger missile.
(SOUNDBITE OF EDDIE "LOCKJAW" DAVIS AND SHIRLEY SCOTT'S "THE REV")
WHITEHEAD: Lockjaw Davis and Shirley Scott also play a few gorgeous ballads. The saxophonist warms himself on "My Old Flame." Then, Scott follows with a surreal organ solo with an odd, throaty tone and eruptive throat-clearing gestures - recorded during December, cough and cold season. Nobody, not even Sun Ra or Fats Waller, took jazz organ this far around the bend.
(SOUNDBITE OF EDDIE "LOCKJAW" DAVIS AND SHIRLEY SCOTT'S "MY OLD FLAME")
WHITEHEAD: Jazz organists usually play their own bass parts. But in the studio, Shirley Scott liked the springy, supportive string bass to give her more elbow room. On these "Cookbook" sessions, bassist George Duvivier and drummer Arthur Edgehill keep the pots boiling. Guest Jerome Richardson occasionally adds a dash of flute or second tenor for spice. The head chefs would part ways in 1960, two years later. Shirley Scott teamed up with saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, and Eddie Davis started locking horns with fellow fiery tenor Johnny Griffin. That led to good music all around. But to my ears, Lockjaw Davis and Shirley Scott sounded a little bit better playing together.
(SOUNDBITE OF EDDIE "LOCKJAW" DAVIS AND SHIRLEY SCOTT'S "STARDUST")
DAVIES: Kevin Whitehead is the author of the book "Play The Way You Feel: The Essential Guide To Jazz Stories On Film," and he writes for Point of Departure and the Audio Beat. He reviewed Eddie Lockjaw Davis and Shirley Scott - "Cookin' With Jaws And The Queen: The Legendary Prestige Cookbook Albums."
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(SOUNDBITE OF EDDIE "LOCKJAW" DAVIS AND SHIRLEY SCOTT'S "STARDUST") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.