JJ 10/61: Eddie ‘Lockjaw Davis – Jaws In Orbit

Sixty years ago Humphrey Lyttelton rejoiced that it would be some time before the Third Stream sapped the vitality from Lockjaw's type of jazz. First published in Jazz Journal October 1961

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Surely no other art form embraces so many functions as jazz. Among current releases, one can find jazz to listen to, jazz to dance to, jazz to make love to, jazz to argue to, jazz to smash up the furniture to, jazz to march to, jazz to entertain your friends to, jazz to get rid of your unwanted guests with, jazz to chatter and clink glasses to, jazz to forget about Kruschev and Kennedy with, jazz which makes you think it wouldn’t matter much if Kruschev and Kennedy did their worst . . . and so on through the whole gamut of human activity.

In most of these categories, the role of the reviewer is superfluous. When a man is steering his girl friend towards the divan to the tune of Andre Previn, it’s really a bit silly to start telling him he should be playing Thelonious Monk. Likewise, when Lock­jaw Davis and Shirley Scott zoom into orbit and all men of healthy instinct start tapping their feet, nodding their heads and beating time with rolled-up copies of the New Statesman, it’s tedious to point out that jazz offers more subtle and intellectual things. Of course it does, and when we want them, we’ll search them out.

But for the moment, one need say no more than that this new Lockjaw album, reinforced by the presence of Steve Pulliam on trombone (a graduate of the Illinois Jacquet, Dizzy Gillespie and Buddy Johnson bands, and an appropri­ately warm-blooded player) is well up to standard. Nowadays terms like “driving” and “uninhibited” are suspect, calling to mind the sort of artificial excitement whooped up by the rhythm ’n’ blues boys. That jazz can appeal irresistibly to the feet and yet retain strong qualities of imagination and taste is demonstrated here.

Having heard the nucleus of this group (Davis, Scott and Edgehill) in per­son in a Pittsburgh jazz club, I can vouch that prejudice against the electric organ vanishes as before a hurricane. The day, happily remote, when this sort of jazz is engulfed in John Lewis’s third stream is the day when I dive overboard.

Discography
Intermission Riff; Can’t Get Out Of This Mood; Foxy (15 min) – Our Delight; Bahia; Bongo Domingo (16 min)
Eddie Lockjaw Davis (ten); Steve Pulliam (tbn); Shirley Scott (org); George Duvivier (bs); Arthur Fdgehill (d). 1/5/59.
(Esquire 32-128. 12inLP. 41s.)