Teddy Edwards – Sunset Eyes (1959)

FrontCover1.jpgTeddy Edwards was, with Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray, the top young tenor of the late ’40s. Unlike the other two, he chose to remain in Los Angeles and has been underrated through the years but remained in prime form well into his 70s. Early on, he toured with Ernie Fields’ Orchestra, moving to L.A. in 1945 to work with Roy Milton as an altoist. Edwards switched to tenor when he joined Howard McGhee’s band and was featured in many jam sessions during the era, recording “The Duel” with Dexter Gordon in 1947. A natural-born leader, Edwards did work briefly with Max Roach & Clifford Brown (1954), Benny Carter (1955), and Benny Goodman (1964), and he recorded in the 1960s with Milt Jackson and Jimmy Smith. But it was his own records — for Onyx (1947-1948), Pacific Jazz, Contemporary (1960-1962), Prestige, Xanadu, Muse, SteepleChase, Timeless, and Antilles — that best displayed his playing and writing; “Sunset Eyes” is Edwards’ best-known original.

TeddyEdwards03Teddy Edwards, who took part in classic tenor battles with Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray in Los Angeles during the mid- to late ’40s, remained a major tenorman for more than half a century. However, his decision to live in L.A. resulted in him being greatly underrated through the years. Fortunately, the superior hard bop tenor (who showed that there was more than just cool jazz being played on the West Coast in the 1950s) recorded on a fairly frequent basis throughout his career. This set features music from 1959-1960 with Edwards joined by either Amos Trice, Joe Castro or Ronnie Ball on piano, Leroy Vinnegar or Ben Tucker on bass, and Billy Higgins or Al Levitt on drums. Edwards, an underrated composer, performs six of his originals (including his most famous composition, “Sunset Eyes,” and two versions of “Takin’ Off”), Vinnegar’s “Vintage ’57,” and a pair of standards. Although there are short solos for Castro and Vinnegar, the focus throughout is on the leader’s distinctive and likable tenor. Since the great Teddy Edwards never recorded an uninspiring record, this date is easily recommended to fans of straight-ahead jazz. (by Scott Yanow)

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Personnel:
Joe Castro (piano)
Teddy Edwards (saxophone)
Billy Higgins (drums)
Leroy Vinnegar (bass)
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Ronnie Ball (piano on 01.)
Al Levitt (drums on 01.)
Amos Trice (piano on 03., 08. – 10.)
Ben Tucker (bass on 01.)

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Tracklist:
01. Tempo De Blues (Edwards) 4.46
02. Vintage ’57 (Vinnegar) 7.13
03. I Hear A Rhapsody (Fragos/Baker/Gasperre) 3.32
04. Up In Teddy’s New Flat (Edwards) 3.07
05. Sunset Eyes (Edwards) 5.27
06. Teddy’s Tune (Edwards) 6.11
07. Takin’ Off (Edwards) 6.33
08. The New Symphony Sid (King Pleasure) 2.16
09. My Kinda Blues (Edwards) 5.12
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10. Takin’ Off (first version) (Edwards) 2.29

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Theodore Marcus Edwards (April 26, 1924 – April 20, 2003)