I play tenor sax, and I like to study the whole sound of the instrument, no matter how seemingly abstruse. Were you studying tenor sax at Berklee or some shit, Teddy Edwards would only barely show up in the 400 or above sections… He’s a footnote.
Don’t get me wrong. He’s very cool. I dig him. I mean, shit– he’s on this page, isn’t he?
But. Still. If you listen to a lot of jazz, or play sax, or both, or whatever–
–you’ll appreciate his approach. Similar to Gordon or Wardell Gray: definitely west coast jazz, but still, cooly different. And surprisingly distinct and fully formed from someone who’s not that well known.
If you don’t love getting very dorky/anal with your interpretations of tenor sounds….
If you don’t like to parse subtle differences in mouthpiece, reed and source of recording area….
If you are not pretentious as hell….
this review is probably not for you.
But you just dig swinging tunes and wanna rap about some old records– Horn’s here to help.
Ha– alliteration. That sounds funny when you say it out loud. There’s three “H” sounds.
What… were we talking about…?
Right! The review!
The newest version of Teddy Edwards’ Sunset Eyes is actually two albums combined: the original Sunset Eyes, as released, and then, from the same session but at the time deemed unreleasable, Teddy’s Ready. [Hence your two covers, above.]
They’re west coast hard bop– “cool bop?” Recorded in Hollywood between 1958 and 1960.
Specific track analness:
Consists of several other sessions actually, not mere the two shown above; two CDs, each with 13 tracks.
What amounts to the west coast hard bop scene culminates in Edwards’ (and band’s) style: it’s aggressive without being bitter, roaring without posturing. It’s a natural athleticism coming across in energy and enthusiasm, seemingly untainted by pessimism (unlike, I would argue, East Coast hard bop is/was).
It’s consistently clever and fun to listen to: they find new, often impish ways around old chord changes; they play with the enthusiasm of new, young players, but with all the empathy and innovation of the seasoned musicians they are.
Usually when I hear albums this hard to find (in the internet age, anyway), there’s usually a good reason. They’re usually third-, fifth- or tenth tier artists justifiably.
But here, listening to these guys jam, I feel amazed that they were passed over for the most part by jazz history. They’re really quite good, and distinct from other players, even today. I don’t get why I’ve been playing tenor for years, but only recently heard Edwards’ name.
It reminds me, though to a greater degree, of Hank Mobley’s situation. Even their tenor tone is similar: Edwards uses what is probably a Brilhart Ebolin mouthpiece with a moderately-heavy reed to get a Mobley-esque sound (i.e., “round,” i.e., not having any particular aspect of the tone stand out– no high highs, no fat lows in particular): and from there projects an inventive lyricism with a more hefty projection and speed than Mobley, who is to me more laid back in his execution.
CD 2 includes a sweet take of “Take the A Train,” the Strayhorn standard, and “Higgins’ Hideaway” has a very cool upward slide at 0:58 and again at 1:28.
They’re all fun tracks. Pick anything with “Blues” in the title and you’ll probably do well.