Tough Tenors Again 'n' Again

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis / Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis & Johnny Griffin Quintet / Johnny Griffin

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Tough Tenors Again 'n' Again Review

by Ken Dryden

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin met in a series of "Tough Tenors" small-group record dates in the early '60s, Davis' hard-blowing style blending perfectly with the lighter but no less intense sound of Griffin. This reunion came about not long after Davis guested in the Kenny Clarke & Francy Boland Big Band (in which Griffin was a regular), prompting a small-group record date with the big band's rhythm section (Boland, Clarke, and bassist Jimmy Woode). There is no less fire in this reunion, and Boland's arrangements bring out the best in both tenor saxophonists. The two men likely penned the breezy "Again 'n' Again" on the spot, an engaging riff tune that proves to be a solid opener. The extended loping rendition of Dizzy Gillespie's "Tin Tin Deo" is a particular highlight, especially for the unusual brooding sound of the tenors. Davis' sassy blues "Jim Dawg" is gritty and swinging. There are also individual features for both saxophonists. Griffin's melancholy ballad "When We Were One" is an emotional work, while Davis' robust interpretation of the standard "If I Had You" begins with a powerful unaccompanied introduction, with sublime accompaniment by the rhythm section. This 2012 reissue by Promising Music not only greatly improves the sound but adds updated liner notes by Davis biographer Mike Hennessey.

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