/Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis.
Personnel: Johnny Griffin, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (tenor saxophone); Junior Mance (piano); Larry Gales (bass); Ben Riley (drums).
Recorded at Plaza Sound Studios, New York, New York on November 4 & 10, 1960.
Personnel: Johnny Griffin (saxophone, tenor saxophone); Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (saxophone, tenor saxophone); Eddie Griffin (tenor saxophone); Junior Mance (piano); Ben Riley (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Joe Tarantino.
Liner Note Author: Chris Albertson.
Recording information: New York, NY (11/04/1960/11/10/1960); Plaza Sound Studios, New York, NY (11/04/1960/11/10/1960).
Photographer: Lawrence Shustak.
If one feels their music getting a bit stale, perhaps a little too predictable, then they have a couple choices. They can dig back into their roots to reconnect with the music they love, or they can go head to head with a counterpoint in an effort to create sparks. Johnny Griffin and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis choose the latter course in Tough Tenors, turning a half-dozen pieces into an enticing mix of edgy solos and synchronized ensemble playing. The fun stuff here bops along at a giddy pace, letting Griffin and Davis trade their tough leads, while pianist Junior Mance offers a slight pause with his swift keyboarding. Lester Young's "Tickle Toe" kicks off the affair with aplomb, and Davis/Griffin's "Twins" provides plenty of room for explosive solo work. The album's center rests with the nine-minute take on Bennie Green's "Flunky Flute," a spontaneous piece that eventually -- because of the players' intensity -- becomes an endurance test. The medium tempo of "Soft Winds" qualifies as a ballad for these guys, and the mellow groove makes it an easygoing closer. Bassist Larry Gales and drummer Ben Riley also do a fine job of keeping this boisterous crew on the ground. Tough Tenors is one of the many amazing jazz recordings from 1960, and will please saxophone fans, Davis/Griffin fans, and anyone who enjoys classic hard bop. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.