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Hear "The Rev" remastered, from a new box of Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis with Shirley Scott on Prestige

Eddie Lockjaw Davis
Esmond Edwards
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CTSIMAGES
Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis during a Prestige Records session in 1958.

"Whatever it was and wherever it began, Lockjaw seemed at ease in the mystery of his style." Stanley Crouch was toasting tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis when he wrote that line, for the epilogue of his book Considering Genius: Writings on Jazz.

"Hair glistening and laid just so," Crouch went on, "he always ended up with his Scotch and milk at the bar, surveying the room, gesturing to the bartender in a way that got his ring twinkling. There, with one foot up, Lockjaw Davis had the amused look of a man who was sure that he was in charge and equally sure that everyone else knew it."

Like an artist's sketch on a cocktail napkin, it's a wonderfully economical portrait — capturing the charismatic quirks of a musician we don't celebrate often enough. He'll receive at least a portion of his due in a few weeks, when Craft Recordings releases Cookin’ with Jaws and the Queen: The Legendary Prestige Cookbook Albums — a 26-track collection of Davis' 1958 sessions with Hammond B-3 master and Philadelphia jazz legend Shirley Scott. The boxed set will be released digitally and as a 4-CD set on Feb. 3, with a 4-LP vinyl set arriving on March 3.

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Shirley Scott

Cookin’ with Jaws and the Queen compiles four albums made by Davis and Scott for Prestige in 1958: three volumes of The Eddie "LockJaw" Davis Cookbook, and a separate but related album titled Smokin'. The original sessions, at Rudy Van Gelder's studio, were produced by Prestige founder Bob Weinstock with Esmond Edwards, though Edwards probably deserves the lion's share of credit for their realization.

As the late Bob Porter notes in his book Soul Jazz: Jazz in the Black Community, 1945-1975: "One of Edwards' first moves was to sign Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis to an exclusive contract. The tandem of Davis and Scott was recorded together, under Davis' name and in support of other artists, eleven times in less than two years!"

The Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Cookbook, Vol. 2, recorded on Dec. 5, 1958 and released the following year, opens with a nine-minute sermon titled "The Rev." Featuring Davis' tenor, Jerome Richardson's flute and Scott's B-3, it's a soul-jazz classic that still simmers.

Cookin’ with Jaws and the Queen was remastered from the original analog tapes by Bernie Grundman, and produced for reissue by Nick Phillips. The LP and CD packages include a booklet with new liner notes by Willard Jenkins, along with photographs from the recording sessions. In both physical and digital formats, the set includes a few tracks that didn't appear on the original albums: "Avalon," "Willow Weep For Me" and an alternate take of "But Beautiful."

And while these albums were issued solely under Davis' name, the new set gives Scott something close to a co-headlining stature. Listen to how she steers the ensemble on "The Rev," spearheading a rhythm team of bassist George Duvivier and drummer Arthur Edgehill, and you'll understand precisely why that credit is so justly deserved — regardless of whether Scott cared who knew it.

Cookin’ with Jaws and the Queen: The Legendary Prestige Cookbook Albums will be released on Craft Recordings on Feb. 3 (CD, digital) and March 3 (vinyl); preorder here.