This is volume three in the complete recordings of tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis as compiled and reissued in 2007 by the producers of the Classics Chronological Series. A bracingly expressive performer who began making records under his own name in 1946, Lockjaw was ripening into a marvelous state of early maturity by the time these sides were cut for the Royal Roost and King labels in 1953, 1954, and 1955. Some may place this compilation among the more highly regarded titles in the Lockjaw Davis discography, mainly because of its friendly and gregarious demeanor. The Roost sessions (tracks one through six) showcase Jaws with a bop rhythm section composed of pianist Eddie Bonnemere, bassist John Simmons, trap drummer Charlie Rice and an unidentified bongo player who added cumin, garlic and cayenne to the mix. During April 1955 Lockjaw Davis and drummer Rice teamed up with organist Doc Bagby (and guitarist Clifford Bush, who can be heard on tracks 22-25) to generate a wicked series of 19 sensuous grooves for the popular King label. While some of this material was released on LP, much of it was clearly designed for the 45 rpm jukebox market. This might explain the relative brevity of some of the cuts; fifteen of them clock in at less than three minutes, and Bagby's "Hay Ride" knocks off at two-minutes-and-fifteen-seconds. This was in some ways the ideal setup for Lockjaw's sensibilities at that point in time. He clearly enjoyed making accessible music for casual enjoyment, and the pleasures of extended soloing could be saved up for other, perhaps live occasions. Along with his two previous volumes in the Classics chronology, the 1953-1955 recordings may serve as a healthy prelude to the creative intensity of his triumphant collaborations with Johnny Griffin and Shirley Scott, and to all of the excellent records he made during the remaining 30 years of his life. What you get here is music that just about anybody could enjoy under any circumstances. Warm, uplifting, reassuring, relaxing, accessible, solid and sweet.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf