As one who has feverishly collected the Prestige Cookbook albums of the great tenor saxophonist Eddie Lockjaw Davis for years, I was dumbstruck when I learned Craft was giving the mighty tenor man the full-court reissue treatment. Because by and large, Lockjaw is forgotten, lost to the jazz ages, his market gobbled up by players with freer intentions, modal mechanics, and nose-burrowing self-explorations. Not the decidedly emotional, rapturous, carefree, hard-swinging and hard-blues-living music found on this new Craft set.
The Cookbook albums, Vols 1 to 4, which also featured and relied on the mighty talents of Hammond organist Shirley Scott, are like nothing else in jazz. Though largely forgotten, when these albums are found, they’re well played, immensely enjoyed, dog-eared, and worn. And the tempos! These are tempos no longer frequented by contemporary jazz musicians, from death-march slow, to gleefully, maddeningly, hair scorching fast. This is slow burn/ fast burn music of the highest order.
Available as a 23-track 4-LP set or a 26-track 4-CD set and digital edition (both featuring three bonus tracks), c’mon get happy with “Skillet,” a gorgeously slow piece adorned with Scott’s special magic, or the upbeat and rollicking “The Chef,” which will have you dancing and choogling, or “High Fry,” a shuffling parade at midnight with hours to burn, or the closer, “Willow Weep For Me,” where Davis showers us with cascades of illustrious riffs, majestic lyricism, and flowing midnight lullabies. Pure genius.