When Johnny Griffin and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis entered a New York studio with producer Orrin Keepnews on May 3, 1962, they did some things that were unusual for the two-tenor team. They played mostly ballads, they didn't engage in any tenor battles and -- most surprising of all -- they didn't perform together on any of the tunes. Griffin was featured on four songs, Davis on another four. The same rhythm section -- Horace Parlan, bassist Buddy Catlett and drummer Art Taylor -- was always present, but Parlan played piano on the songs featuring Griffin and celeste on the songs featuring Davis. For whatever reason, the performances remained in the can for 42 years; they weren't even mastered until 1966, and they finally saw the light of day when Fantasy released Pisces in 2004. Pisces begs the following question: why, in God's name, would two saxmen who had as strong a rapport as Griffin and Davis not perform together when they were in the studio at the same time? Emphasizing ballads was an excellent idea, but wouldn't it have made more sense for them to do it as co-leaders of a quintet? According to jazz critic Larry Hollis -- who wrote Pisces' informative liner notes -- Griffin and Davis' decision to play separately had to do with the fact that they "didn't want to be stereotyped as merely a two-tenor team." In any event, both saxmen are in good form on this CD, which is enjoyable whether the soloist is Griffin on "Willow Weep for Me" and Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" or Davis on "Midnight Sun" and "Yesterdays." For Griffin and Davis, deciding to play separately on May 3, 1962 was probably a mistake; even so, Pisces is a noteworthy (if less than essential) album that shouldn't have gone unreleased for so long.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson