Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Shirley Scott share a sizzling synergy on Cookbook classics. Culinary metaphors…
Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Shirley Scott share a sizzling synergy on Cookbook classics.
Culinary metaphors heap high on the plate when it comes to Hammond B3 organ. Think of Jimmy Smith’s Blue Note release Home Cookin’, with its cover photo displaying the Hammond wizard at the window of Kate’s Soul Food in Harlem, or “Brother” Jack McDuff’s LP Down Home Style, its cover image comprising a mouthwatering mess of ribs, collard greens and cornbread. Even in its moniker, the “soul jazz” of artists such as Smith and McDuff — which flourished in the 1950s and ’60s — championed Black identity. And certainly, the kitchen was a source of cultural pride for many African Americans, as was the urban, hard-edged Hammond sound, particularly when paired with tenor saxophone.
The soul jazz/soul food link came to the fore on a series of recordings by tenor sax titan Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, who teamed with Hammond organ ace Shirley Scott on three volumes under the title The Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis Cookbook. Recorded in 1958 during three sessions at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Hackensack, New Jersey, these releases — and another with the same personnel, Smokin’ — comprise a new collection, Cookin' With Jaws and the Queen: The Legendary Prestige Cookbook Albums (Craft). Tracks such as “Heat ’N Serve,” “Skillet” and “Simmerin’” drive home the metaphor, Davis’ brawny, gritty tone exquisitely matched by Scott’s peppery organ fills and vibrato-laden solos.
Davis, known as Lockjaw or just “Jaws,” made his bones with the big bands of Cootie Williams, Lucky Millinder and Andy Kirk in the 1940s, and later with Count Basie. The New York native also recorded with one of his primary influences, Coleman Hawkins, and co-led a band with another “tough tenor,” Johnny Griffin. Scott, a dozen years younger than Davis, grew up in Philadelphia, a hotbed of Hammond activity, and was inspired by fellow Philadelphian Jimmy Smith. (Jimmy McGriff and Trudy Pitts also hailed from the area.) Davis invited Scott to join his group in 1955, her distinctive sound featured on the Lockjaw albums Eddie’s Function (alongside organist Doc Bagby), Jaws and In the Kitchen.
Davis and Scott were seasoned bandmates when they entered the Van Gelder studio to wax the Cookbook sessions along with saxophonist-flutist Jerome Richardson, bassist George Duvivier and drummer Arthur Edgehill. Their remarkable synergy shines on a set of exuberant jumpers such as “The Chef,” “Three Deuces” and “Pots and Pans,” in which Davis’ sooty, muscular exhortations are matched by Scott’s equally energetic and heated runs on the Hammond. Slow-burners, such as the deeply bluesy “The Rev” and “In the Kitchen,” reveal another facet of their artistry through intense long-form numbers.
The Davis-Scott partnership continued through 1963. Davis departed from the tenor-organ format that he had helped popularize, while Scott continued in the style with her husband, saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. Still, Scott’s recordings with Davis remain a highlight of both of their careers and a highlight of the form. Both have since died, Davis in 1986, Scott in 2002.
Remastered from the original tapes by Bernie Grundman, the music on the Craft collection jumps from the speakers with renewed vibrancy. The four-LP set — a four-CD set is also available — includes bonus tracks and original album artwork, as well as a 20-page booklet with session photos and new liner notes by jazz journalist Willard Jenkins. — Bob Weinberg
Featured photo: Esmond Edwards / CTSIMAGES.