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Almost everything tenor sax man Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (1922-86) blew had a deep understanding of the blues. He was one of the most expressive (and identifiable) of the growling tenors, and his blues sensibility was infallible. He was at his best as one of Count Basie's featured soloists (1952-53, 1957 and 1964-73) and made his greatest, gutsiest music in the successful 1955-60 quartet he co-led with organist Shirley Scott. Straight Blues could have filled one disc with just some of the many original blues Davis and Scott recorded on their numerous Prestige records. As it is, only three such themes are featured here ("The Rev," "Heat 'n' Serve" and "Pots and Pans). The rest of the set includes two tracks a piece with the Red Garland Trio ("Untitled Blues," "Softly Baby"), the Oliver Nelson Orchestra (the original "Stolen Moments" and the excellent "Trane Whistle"), "Straight, No Chaser" (from a 1960-62 union with fellow tenor man Johnny Griffin), "Street Lights" (a 1962 quartet featuring organist Don Patterson), "Jawbreakers" (a 1962 meeting with Harry "Sweets" Edison) and "Edison's Lights"" (a 1976 quintet featuring Count Basie). Unfortunately, Straight Blues is a bit too much of a hodge-podge, jumping from one excellent Davis group to another. One disc a piece could easily have been devoted to the blues recordings Davis made with Shirley Scott, Red Garland, Johnny Griffin, Harry "Sweets" Edison or Count Basie. But for the sake of economy, this is probably an ideal introduction to the blues power of Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and offers beginners a good place to start exploring the tenor great's tough and earthy music.
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