Eddie Lockjaw Davis

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Eddie Lockjaw Davis with Sweets Edison at the Village Jazz Lounge in Walt Disney World

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis , also called Jaws or lock , (* 2. March 1922 in New York as Edward Davis , † 3. November 1986 in Culver City , California ) was an American jazz - Tenor saxophonist and composer .

Live and act

First the tenor saxophonist, who taught himself to play with sheet music and an instrument from the pawn shop and already had his first engagement eight months later, played with Cootie Williams from 1942 to 1944 , then with Lucky Millinder , in Louis Armstrong's last big band and from 1945 / 46 at Andy Kirk . He also took part in the sessions of the bebop musicians in Clark Monroe's Uptown House , played with Roy Eldridge , Ace Harris , Gerald Wilson and with Billie Holiday , who voted him into her dream band in 1946 for the Esquire Jazz Book .

In 1946 he founded his own rhythm and blues group and made his recording debut; His nickname supposedly comes from this time: To save royalties, the small record labels often renamed the well-known standards - Eddie Davis had a huge success with Lockjaw and this "nickname", which also means "Lock" or "Jaw" was abbreviated, remained with him throughout his life. With his combo he formed the house band at Minton's Playhouse ; she also performed at the Royal Roost . During this time he worked with Tadd Dameron and the late trumpeter Fats Navarro .

Since 1952 he was with Count Basie as a saxophonist, at times also as manager of the Basie Band ; he returned to the orchestra in 1957, 1964/65, 1966 and from 1967 to 1973. Between 1955 and 1960 he had a permanent trio (consisting of tenor, organ and percussion). a. the organist Shirley Scott was a member of, performing at Count Basie's Harlem pub. For his albums for Prestige Records at the time , the trio was expanded to include other musicians; there were also bassist George Duvivier , who did the footwork for Shirley Scott, and flutist Jerome Richardson . His early 1960s albums with Harry "Sweets" Edison and Jawbreakers (1962) caused a sensation . His delicate, supple style contrasted with the rather heated Davis. In 1960 Davis had the opportunity to put together a big band for Trane Whistle . a. Clark Terry , Melba Liston , Eric Dolphy and Jimmy Cleveland played - the arrangements were made by Oliver Nelson , who also wrote most of the compositions, including a first version of his famous Stolen Moments . In the same year, the album Night Hawk was created together with his great role model Coleman Hawkins .

In 1961 he worked on the album Carmen McRae Sings Lover Man and Other Billie Holiday Classics . With his prestige series The Eddie Lockjaw Davis Showcase , he campaigned for the promotion of little-known talent; so he accompanied with his band blues vocalists like Al Smith or Milfred Anderson , neither of whom had a big breakthrough.

Between 1960 and 1962 he led a quintet with junior Mance , Larry Gales and Ben Riley , together with tenor colleague Johnny Griffin , which made several records and later had several reunions; then he worked temporarily as a music agent in 1963/64. Outside of the quintet, Davis experimented with Latin Jazz ( Afro-Jaws ), a. a. with Clark Terry and Ernie Royal .

He returned to Basie again and played in the Kenny Clarke / Francy Boland Big Band ; he also had groups with Roy Eldridge (1974) and with "Sweets" Edison (1975-1982); During this time he was associated with Norman Granz 'label Pablo Records and appeared with Zoot Sims , Tommy Flanagan , Oscar Peterson , Ella Fitzgerald , Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Jackson in the all-star formations put together by Granz, so in 1977 on the Montreux Jazz Festival . One of the highlights of the late Davis's discography is the album Straight Ahead . In 1983 there was a final reunion with Basie in the formation The Kansas City Seven .

From the 1970s, Davis also frequently worked with European musicians, such as Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen , Georges Arvanitas , Alex Riel , Isla Eckinger and Jesper Lundgaard . From 1974 to 1985 he made regular guest appearances in Vienna's Jazzland , where he performed with Austrian jazz musicians for a total of 18 weeks in 12 years. In 1982 he played the album Land Of Dreams with the Michael Starch Trio and Karl Ratzer. In 1982 he made a guest appearance in a Battle of the Saxes at the Berlin Jazz Festival .

In 1986, one of his last honors was the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Jazz Society. His numerous compositions include Hey Lock! , Foxy , Three Deuces and Very Saxy .

His style

“Lockjaw” Davis played a robust and voluminous tenor; Due to his powerful tone, he developed an individual and inimitable style, which was characterized by idiosyncratic twists and turns and expressive phrasing. The distinguishing feature was his extroverted, earthy, robust game "with a growling, roaring, but brilliant tone".

With all of his recordings soaked in blues and gospel , Davis had already found himself on a similar line as hardbop musicians in the 1950s . His game was “an independent alternative to the trends set by 'modernists' like Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane .” “His credo was:“ I don't want to be typed, but simplicity is my theme and I do want to stay close to basic ingredients ”. Elsewhere he said: "I did not experiment or develop, but tried to reach the audience's ears through simplicity - with melody, a simple improvised line, in performances that were not too long."


To what extent Lockjaw Records refer to his nickname is not known, the rock group Lockjaw chose their band name more or less randomly.

Discographic notes


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Bohländer and Feather / Gitler give 1921 as the year of birth.
  2. Recorded on the small Haven label (HL 920), 1946.
  3. According to a report by Bill Crow , Eddie Davis recorded for the music producer Bob Shad . He named all the pieces after various diseases. The track entitled Lockjaw then became a minor hit with jazz disc jockeys, making it his nickname. See Bill Crow in Local 802 . 2014
  4. According to Marcus A. Woelfle, it refers to his pronounced chin; another nickname was "The Fox".
  5. See Woelfle, p. 9.
  6. Released on Tilly-Disc (LP 120-588 - out of print, re-released on CD with 4 bonus tracks on RST-Records ).
  7. Quoted from Martin Kunzler, p. 277.
  8. Quoted from Marcus A. Woelfle, p. 10 f.
  9. Quoted from Kunzler, p. 277.