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Zoot Sims/Eddie Lockjaw Davis featuring Oscar Peterson: The Tenor Giants Featuring Oscar Peterson

It must have come as a bit of a surprise for the audience to find Zoot Sims and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis sharing a Jazz at the Philharmonic stage on a 1975 European tour, but here they are, backed by Oscar Peterson’s impeccable trio with bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen and drummer Louis Bellson. The Tenor Giants’ eight tunes were recorded (but unreleased until now) at five venues over a 10-day period and include a ballad feature for each tenorman (Sims on a wistful “My Old Flame”; Davis in swaggering form on an equally relaxed “Don’t Worry About Me”) and excursions through selected standards at varied tempos. Things start quickly with a booting “The Man I Love” with Sims and Davis divvying up chores on the intro-Jaws giving the melody a going over; Zoot goosing things along with subtle asides-before Sims sails into his solo with his usual aplomb followed by Davis, whose hoarse, blustering tone is indicative of the urgency he felt to get everything he could out ASAP.

Head, solos, fours and head-nothing unusual here but there is a lot of superb playing. The rhythm section is a marvel throughout with Peterson deftly setting up each tune then digging into his bag of tricks during his solos while NHOP and Bellson (who gets his licks in on a blazing solo on “Groovin’ High” that features his two-bass drum and roto-tom setup) keep things ticking along as only they can.

Although Sims and Davis were quite used to the two-tenor format, this was a one-off gig and they went for it full bore, as evinced by their closing fours where they kept throwing more fuel on the fire. Very tasty!

Originally Published