Unlocking Gentle Jaws


Gentle Jaws provides the exception in the prolific Prestige catalog of tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. He was best known for his uptown, up-tempo swinging, but Gentle Jaws, originally the first title in the Prestige subsidiary Moodsville and now part of Concord's Digital Only download section, exclusively features ballads.

Davis mainly draws upon standards for his Gentle ballad songbook (though he does include Red Garland's tune "The Red Blues"). He wraps his tenor sound completely around "It Could Happen to You" to lose himself in the reverie of its embrace. He turns in a classic take on "Serenade in Blue" and his tenor soulfully sings and improvises on "The Man I Love" and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." Best of all, Davis' light, elegant glide through "The Very Thought of You" legitimizes him in the lineage of such tenor legacies as Ben Webster and Lester Young.

The Red Garland Trio and Shirley Scott Trio each provide Gentle rhythmic support. Curiously, Scott, who often recorded as Davis' organ player -- for example, on Davis' famously hot Cookbook, Volumes 1 and 2, plus Jaws, another title in this Digital series -- switches to piano for these sessions, leaving its romantic atmosphere unbroken. The leader tastefully lays completely out of "The Blue Room" and "Stella by Starlight," thereby allowing Garland's beautiful piano trio voice to be heard.

in this playlist.