Johnny Griffin & Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis – Live At The Penthouse
UNRELEASED JOHNNY GRIFFIN-EDDIE ''LOCKJAW'' DAVIS TENOR SAX DUEL OW!
Deluxe Package Includes Interviews with Tenor Star James Carter and Drummer Kenny Washington and Essays by Historian Ted Panken and Pianist Michael Weiss
The supercharged tenor saxophone duo of Johnny Griffin and Eddie ''Lockjaw'' Davis can be heard in full flight on Reel to Real Recordings' previously unreleased live set Ow!
The title - which features stellar, previously unreleased performances captured at the Seattle club the Penthouse in May-June 1962 -- will initially be available on 180-gram vinyl mastered by Bernie Grundman, and subsequently be issued on CD Dec. 6.
Reel to Real - a partnership between Vancouver-based jazz impresario and saxophonist Cory Weeds and Resonance Records co-president and noted ''Jazz Detective'' Zev Feldman - was launched on Record Store Day 2018 with a pair of releases that included Swingin' in Seattle, live sessions by Cannonball Adderley's quintet recorded at the Penthouse in 1966-67. Resonance has previously plumbed the Penthouse's deep archives for its albums by Wes Montgomery (Smokin' in Seattle) and the Three Sounds featuring Gene Harris (Groovin' Hard).
In his notes included in the 28-page booklet that accompanies the package, Weeds recalls, ''Upon hearing the Johnny Griffin-Eddie ''Lockjaw'' Davis tapes, I got that excited feeling in my stomach again, called Zev, and said, ''We have to put this music out, whatever it takes.''
Feldman adds, ''These recordings are a gift that keeps on giving so much elation and positive vibes, which were captured with this music. It will now live on forever thanks to producer/radio legend Jim Wilke; engineer Fred Stimson, who recorded these broadcasts that were transferred from the original analog tapes; and Charlie Puzzo, Jr., son of the Penthouse's proprietor.''
1. Intermission Riff / Intro By Jim Wilkie - 0:53 2. Blues Up And Down - 6:48 3. Ow! - 8:20 4. Spoken Introduction - 0:09 5. Bahia - 8:44 6. Spoken Introduction - 0:05 7. Blue Lou - 4:11 8. Second Balcony Jump - 7:13 9. Spoken Outro - 0:08 10. How Am I To Know? - 10:14 11. Spoken Introduction - 0:09 12. Sophisticated Lady - 4:03 13. Spoken Introduction - 0:09 14. Tickle Toe - 6:36 15. Intermission Riff / Outro By Jim Wilkie - 0:56
Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis / Johnny Griffin (tenor saxophone) , Buddy Catlett (bass) , Horace Parlan (piano) , Art Taylor (drums)
Tracks 1-7 recorded May 30, 1962
Tracks 8-15 recorded June 6, 1962
Recorded live at the Penthouse in Seattle, Washington
1. DownBeat Editors' Picks - J.D. Considine -- 2019
Back in the early '60s, when tenor saxophonists Johnny Griffin and Eddie ''Lockjaw'' Davis teamed up to record a series of albums, they were dubbed the ''Tough Tenors,'' no doubt in appreciation of the rough-and-tumble nature of their dueling solos. But when I first heard them, courtesy of a Prestige ''two-for'' package released a decade later, what struck me about their blues-inflected interplay wasn't its combative quality but, rather, its soul. To my ears, they had more in common with Sam and Dave than with Foreman and Ali.
That's definitely the vibe on Ow! Live At The Penthouse, recorded over two nights at Seattle's Penthouse club in 1962. Instead of playing to the pugilistic side of their sound, the program has the relaxed, congenial feel of friendly conversation, as if each solo is meant less as one-upmanship than as point/counterpoint.
Not that there's anything lax about their playing. Indeed, ''Tickle Toe,'' the Basie chestnut that was one of the highlights of the 1960 LP Tough Tenors, is even tougher here, as they rip through the tune at a slightly higher tempo and a decidedly more elevated level of post-bop improvisation. Were the duo around today, their catalog likely would be peppered with references to the Fast and the Furious movie franchise.
That said, the most endearing thing about Ow! is the playfulness of the solos. Griffin's feature on ''Bahia,'' for example, starts off by echoing some of the gruff bluesiness of Davis' opening solo, but eventually, playing off Horace Parlan's piano chords, the saxophonist quotes ''Manteca,'' and then finishes the tune with a lengthy lift from Ravel's ''Bolero.''
While Davis' solos are long on drive and bluesy growl, Griffin's more boppish sensibility is leavened by his fondness for quotes. He slips a few bars of Thelonious Monk's ''Rhythm-A-Ning'' into the soulful ''Ow!,'' nods to ''Fascinatin' Rhythm'' while trading fours with Davis during ''Blue Lou,'' and ends his solo on ''Second Balcony Jump'' with a snippet of Mendelssohn's ''Wedding March.'' Like everything else on this album, it's a blast.
2. CD HotList: New Releases for Libraries - Rick Anderson
This album documents a summit meeting of tenor-saxophone titans. For two weeks in 1962 (in early March and then again in early June), Johnny Griffin and Eddie ''Lockjaw'' Davis commanded the stage at Seattle's Penthouse club, jointly leading a quintet that also featured pianist Horace Parlan, bassist Buddy Catlett and drummer Art Taylor. The hour's worth of tracks (along with a few slightly annoying intros, outros, and brief riffs) are absolutely fierce, except when they're tender and soulful. But even on the ballads there's a tremendous energy: notice, for example, the frenetic bebop workouts ''Second Balcony Jump'' and ''Ow!'', and then compare them to the sweet and gentle opening to ''Sophisticated Lady,'' a rendition that keeps erupting into edgy double-time passages. This is not easy-listening jazz; it's jazz for other musicians, though just about any fan will be able to enjoy it. The sound is quite good; only the bass lacks definition, which is par for the course with live recordings from this period.
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