Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (1922-1986) was "Jaws" long before the imitation shark was built. He had a semi-R&B 1940s hit when there was a fad for titles drawn from the list of illnesses: "Lockjaw". Bret Primack's liner note claims Jaws was one of the instantly recognisables. Correct. If he'd lived longer and toured Europe with Jimmy Heath and Joe Henderson, he might have upstaged them both, as did his contemporary Arnett Cobb (another man with several Prestige records). Memo to www.allmusic.com: Jaws did not play hard bop. Note to readers: Jaws always swung.
This sampler from nine Jaws albums includes four titles from The Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Cookbook Vol. 2, with Jerome Richardson's flute joining the longtime standard line-up of Shirley Scott on organ, Arthur Edgehill on drums, and George Duvivier on bass on seven tracks here. On the storming opener, "Intermission Riff", Jaws's old friend Steve Pulliam is an asset on trombone. Ray Barretto is as well on the closer, "Speak Low". Another two tracks have Don Patterson on organ, and Paul Weeden on well-played but funnily-amplified (hints of electric banjo) guitar. There's also the title track from Trane Whistle, an album with Jaws in a big band under Oliver Nelson.
Jaws played good solos with the early 1940s Cootie Williams Big Band, roared well during spells with Count Basie, and could play ballads as well as he does "Body and Soul" (!) with the Shirley Scott group. I might prefer simply Cookbook Vol.2 to this set, with Jaws properly embedded in a single campaign. I'd like to hear the whole album with Horace Praline's piano (Buddy Chattel, bass; Art Taylor; Willie Booboo, congas). Jaws didn't have the variously inventive powers of some, but if this selection increases variety (though I'm not sure it does), there's a measure of unsettlement in comparison with that set's steady context. Night Hawk with Coleman Hawkins is sampled on the latter's set in this series, a prime recommendation for either tenor, and, as on Riverside with Johnny Griffin, Jaws plainly thrives with a front-line partner. With the accompanying CD -- Gene Ammons/Sonny Stitt; Jack McDuff/Red Holloway/George Benson; Willis Jackson; Groove Holmes/Roland Kirk/McDuff; Shirley Scott/Stanley Turrentine -- this could be a prime 2-CD choice for any tenor and organ admirer. ~ Robert R. Calder, Pop Matters