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Teddy Edwards: Ladies Man

The most consistent quality about tenor man Teddy Edwards is his consistency. The veteran of Los Angeles’ famous “cutting contests” (when Central Avenue matched 52nd Street’s halcyon days) that gave rise to the likes of Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Roy Porter, Harold Land, Sonny Criss and the precocious Eric Dolphy has always possessed a tone with a broadband as wide as his famous grin. Another consistency: he has maintained his unshakable allegiance to bebop since his basic training in the less challenging milieu of rhythm and blues.

In this collection, he shows another, more personal allegiance: the aptly named Ladies Man (a different type of broadband?) devotes all 10 tracks to songs bearing women’s names. It’s a clever concept and the most swinging dedicatee is the very first: Duke Pearson’s “Jeannine,” helped considerably by trumpeter Eddie Allen, who shows up for four of the ladies. Paradoxically, the least successful is another pairing by that front line, on Bird’s “Donna Lee.” The unison head might have been acceptable in a live format, but under studio conditions, this take is rather sloppy.

Allen provides a pleasant, muted riff to Edwards’ portrait of “Marie” and the tenorist is at his relaxed best. Talk about laid back: Edwards’ vibratoless tone turns “Ruby” and “Diane” into somewhat mournful renderings. “Candy” and “Rosalie” are relaxed romps with excellent comping from pianist Ronnie Mathews. The lone original, Edwards’ “Saskia,” is the only Latin lass.

Ladies Man is a pleasant but unexciting outing. Should sell well among feminists.

Originally Published