A formidably expressive but always accessible tenor saxophonist, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis made his first recordings as a leader in 1946, and all of his early works have been carefully reissued on the Classics Chronological Series. By the mid- to late '70s, Jaws had ripened into a superb interpreter of ballads who embodied the brusque amiability of hard bop and groove-oriented mainstream jazz. Producer Norman Granz, who during this period included the saxophonist in various pet projects including all-star Count Basie jams and collaborations with trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison, lined him up with two excellent rhythm sections for a studio session on May 3, 1976 and a live performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 15 1977. Released on the Pablo label in 1981, The Best of Eddie Lockjaw Davis combines material from both sources. Tracks one-five may be found on the album Straight Ahead on which Lockjaw simmers happily with Tommy Flanagan, Keter Betts, and Bobby Durham, while tracks six-nine come from Montreux '77, documenting a superb performance with stellar support from Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, and Jimmie Smith. A good shot of all-purpose straight-ahead jazz.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf