Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

202

Johnny Griffin & Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis: Pisces

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
The early '60s was a golden age for tenor tandems. Towering team-ups like Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, Zoot Sims and Al Cohn, and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin were illustrative of the Zeitgeist. Such a simple formula, joining the talents of two titans on that most popular of jazz horns, but it's one that consistently yielded both artistic and financial profit. For a time the partnership of Davis and Griffin stood at the front of the pack.



The 1962 recording Pisces is unique in discography of Davis and Griffin for several reasons. Firstly, though the saxophonists share billing on the traycard as well as the same rhythm section, none of the tracks feature the pair together. Secondly, the set list is comprised almost completely of ballads. The only exception arises in the Griffin-penned title waltz that ambles along at a medium tempo. Thirdly, and perhaps most surprisingly, the tape reel sat sequestered on a shelf for the better part of forty years. The chosen schematic removes the possibility of sparks striking between the two men, but each is so versed at fronting an ensemble that it's worth paying attention to his interplay with the Parlan-led rhythm team that also employs supple bass of Buddy Catlett and the always ecumenical drumming of Art Taylor.



Aside from Griffin's jovial opener the remaining cuts predictably draw from the jazz standard songbook. For some inexplicable reason Davis is saddled with Parlan's decision to play celeste on his featured tracks and the cloying wind chime tonalities of the instrument quickly pall. Even Catlett and Taylor sound a bit stultified by the situation. Luckily the robust purr of Davis' horn acts as an effective antidote, gliding eloquently through choruses and offering a salty tang to the otherwise saccharine surroundings. Parlan's piano work is a different story, nimble and elegant and dulcetly supportive of Griff's mellifluous lines, particularly on pieces like the positively intoxicating reading of "Willow Weep For Me." Adding measurably to an already valuable trove are four alternate takes (three by Griff and one by Jaws) that bolster the running time to just over fifty fulsome minutes.



According the liner notes, the pair cut the date at a New York studio and interest swiftly waned toward the results. Davis' topflight session at Rudy Van Gelder's taped two days earlier with the same rhythm section and conguero Willie Bobo added (released as Goin' to the Meeting ) may have also swayed opinions against releasing the material. Today's vantage point makes room for a different appraisal. Davis' catalog is now a finite commodity, making virtually any "new" work worth scrutiny. Griffin continues to record, but again anything of antique vintage unearthed in his oeuvre is cause for collectors and casual fans to take notice. Despite a minor complaint or two, this collection is certainly that, and one that any fan of either man should waste no time in checking it out.



Visit Riverside on the web.


Track Listing: Pisces*/ Midnight Sun/ Willow Weep For Me*/ Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered/ What Is There To Say?/ She's Funny That Way*/ Yesterdays/ Sophisticated Lady*/ Willow Weep for Me (alternate)*/ She's Funny That Way*/ Sophisticated Lady*/ What Is There To Say?

Personnel: Johnny Griffin- tenor saxophone*; Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis- tenor saxophone; Horace Parlan- piano*, celeste; Buddy Catlett- bass; Arthur Taylor- drums. Recorded: May 3, 1962, NYC.

Title: Pisces | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Riverside


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Alleviation CD/LP/Track Review Alleviation
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Last Minute Panic CD/LP/Track Review Last Minute Panic
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Murphy CD/LP/Track Review Murphy
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Haberdashery CD/LP/Track Review Haberdashery
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Song of the Silver Geese CD/LP/Track Review Song of the Silver Geese
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Live at Kolarac CD/LP/Track Review Live at Kolarac
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 18, 2017
Read "In The Green Castle" CD/LP/Track Review In The Green Castle
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "Think Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Think Ahead
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 2, 2017
Read "Trip" CD/LP/Track Review Trip
by James Nadal
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Signs" CD/LP/Track Review Signs
by Doug Collette
Published: September 10, 2017
Read "Nellie Bly Project" CD/LP/Track Review Nellie Bly Project
by Paul Rauch
Published: August 11, 2017
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 5, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!