Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Biography

2 March 1922, New York City, New York, USA, d. 3 November 1986, Culver City, California, USA. Davis began to make his mark on the jazz scene in his home town when he worked at Clark Monroe’s Uptown House in the late 30s. Despite this establishment’s close ties with the emergence of bebop a few years later, Davis’ tenor saxophone playing was rooted in swing and the blues, and early in his career he displayed a marked affinity with the tough school of Texas tenors. In the early 40s he worked with a number of big bands, including those of Cootie Williams, Lucky Millinder and Andy Kirk. He also led his own small group for club and record sessions.

In 1952 Davis made the first of several appearances with the Count Basie band, which extended through the 60s and into the 70s. It was with Basie that he made his greatest impact, although in between these stints he continued to lead his own small groups, notably with fellow-tenorist Johnny Griffin in the early 60s, Roy Eldridge in the mid-70s, and Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison in the late 70s and early 80s. Davis’ playing style showed him to be at ease on both gutsy, hard-driving swingers and slow, tender ballads. The former are most evident in his partnership with Griffin and his showstoppers with Basie, such as ‘Whirlybird’ on The Atomic Mr Basie, while the latter facet of his musical character came to the fore on a fine album of ballads he made with Paul Gonsalves.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.