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Album Review

If one feels their music getting a bit stale, perhaps a little too predictable, then they have a couple choices. They can dig back into their roots to reconnect with the music they love, or they can go head to head with a counterpoint in an effort to create sparks. Johnny Griffin and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis choose the latter course in Tough Tenors, turning a half-dozen pieces into an enticing mix of edgy solos and synchronized ensemble playing. The fun stuff here bops along at a giddy pace, letting Griffin and Davis trade their tough leads, while pianist Junior Mance offers a slight pause with his swift keyboarding. Lester Young's "Tickle Toe" kicks off the affair with aplomb, and Davis/Griffin's "Twins" provides plenty of room for explosive solo work. The album's center rests with the nine-minute take on Bennie Green's "Flunky Flute," a spontaneous piece that eventually — because of the players' intensity — becomes an endurance test. The medium tempo of "Soft Winds" qualifies as a ballad for these guys, and the mellow groove makes it an easygoing closer. Bassist Larry Gales and drummer Ben Riley also do a fine job of keeping this boisterous crew on the ground. Tough Tenors is one of the many amazing jazz recordings from 1960, and will please saxophone fans, Davis/Griffin fans, and anyone who enjoys classic hard bop. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi


Born: March 2, 1922 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Possessor of a cutting and immediately identifiable tough tenor tone, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis could hold his own in a saxophone battle with anyone. Early on, he picked up experience playing with the bands of Cootie Williams (1942-1944), Lucky Millinder, Andy Kirk (1945-1946), and Louis Armstrong. He began heading his own groups from 1946 and Davis' earliest recordings as a leader tended to be explosive R&B affairs with plenty of screaming from his horn; he matched wits successfully with Fats Navarro...
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Tough Tenors, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Quintet
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