Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis With Paul Gonsalves – Love Calls – Dynagroove RCA Victor (1968)/ Pure Pleasure Records (2014) PPAN LSP-3882, audiophile vinyl ****:
(Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis – tenor saxophone; Paul Gonsalves – tenor saxophone; Roland Hanna – piano; Ben Tucker – bass; Everett Barksdale – guitar; Grady Tate – drums)
Eddie “Lockjaw Davis” was a prolific tenor saxophonist whose career spanned four decades. He played with Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and many others. In the early sixties he formed a quintet with Johnnie Griffin. This collaboration resulted in nearly a dozen recordings. Davis teamed with many great saxophone players, including Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Stitt, Zoot Sims and Paul Gonsalves. His incorporation of swing, bop, hard bop, Latin and rhythm and blues, kept his studio work and concert appearances in great demand. He was a successful band leader, and showcased material that focused on the entire ensemble.
In 1968, Davis recorded an album with fellow sax man, Paul Gonsalves. “Love Calls (For Ballads In The Night)” boasted eleven arrangements of ballad standards with a sextet featuring the two saxophonists. Forty-five years later, Pure Pleasure Records has re-mastered Love Calls on audiophile 180-gram vinyl stereo. Jazz was changing (like everything else in 1968) exploring electric, hybrid forms like fusion. This album is a fond homage to the art of interpretation. Opening Side 1 is one of the most recognized Gershwin compositions, “Love Is Here To Stay”. The different style of the two saxophones is on display. Davis (on the first solo) has a burly, soulful tone. Gonsalves’ lines are more wistful , and have some vibrato punctuation. On “If I Ruled The World” (the popular show tune from Pickwick), the format changes. Pianists Roland Hanna establishes a subtle rhythmic undertone with bass notes. Gonsalves takes on the melody as Davis counters with crisp, articulate counters. Also straying from convention, “Time After Time” (an early SammyCahn/Jule Styne film hit for Frank Sinatra) has an up-tempo Latin vibe held together by Grady Tate’s understated drumming. The Gonsalves/Davis sequence of soloing works effectively. Davis’ spirited flourishes add some grit. “Just Friends” reverses the order. Everett Barksdale contributes some integral guitar lines and Hanna shines on a delicate interval. Gonsalves finishes with a breathy solo.
Side 2 begins with a frequently covered ballad, “I Should Care”. After an unexpected bass intro, Davis and Gonsalves play in counters with great dexterity. There is a bluesy undertone and the duo manages to intertwine without stepping on each other. “The Man With The Horn” showcases the diverse approaches by these two legends. Gonsalves is deliberate and moody, while Davis demonstrates sharper tonality. “We’ll Be Together Again” has a concise, jazzy opening on piano and exudes a traditional jazz feel. Hanna has a brief eloquent solo. The finale “Don’t Blame Me” draws on the artistic, soulful range of saxophone instrumentation. A rare unaccompanied solo by each performer is a lyrical nuance that grips the listener.
Pure Pleasure Records has done an outstanding job in converting the master tapes to audiophile vinyl. There is little rumble on lower register notes and any shrillness at the higher end is non-existent. The stereo separation is balanced and the overall mix is consistent. The backup instruments do not interfere with the saxophones.
Side 1: Love Is Here To Stay; When Sunny Gets Blue; If I Ruled The World; Time After Time; Just Friends; Don’t Blame Me
Side 2: I Should Care; The Man With The Horn; We’ll Be Together Again; A Weaver Of Dreams; If I Should Lose You