Teddy Edwards: Midnight Creeper
Teddy Edwards (tenor sax)
Midnight Creeper (High Note 7011)
Composed by Walter Gross and Jack Lawrence.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, March 7, 1997
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
Edwards was 73 years-old at the time of this session in 1997, and his appealing style was captured vividly throughout. His playing combines a blues-based approach with a mellow assortment of phrasings derived from the vocabulary of bebop. Although Edwards never recorded prolifically as a leader, his underrated talent got him numerous gigs with bands led by, among others, Max Roach, Gerald Wilson, Benny Carter, Milt Jackson, Jimmy Smith, Sarah Vaughan, Benny Goodman, and even Tom Waits. Edwards may be best known for his 1947 recording with Dexter Gordon, "The Duel," while he was a part of the Central Avenue jazz scene in Los Angeles, the city where he resided for almost all his adult life.
Producer Houston Person wisely allowed Rudy Van Gelder to spin his magic sound-wise, and Edwards is nowhere better heard on record than during this extended nine-minute version of "Tenderly." While the CD's title, Midnight Creeper, refers to an Edwards tune by that name, it could just as easily refer to his playing on "Tenderly." The saxophonist creeps up on you and casts a spell, from his supple opening run to his lush-toned, expansive handling of the melody, which he laces with alluring and uplifting embellishments. A dramatic, melancholy mood has been established, but Edwards' solo is something else entirely, blues-drenched from the start, as his tone hardens and he soulfully both blusters and tiptoes through his thematic excursion. The equally underappreciated Richard Wyands keeps a low flame burning during his gently assertive piano solo. Edwards reappears with sensuous come-hither held notes, and proceeds on to a peak in expression and dynamics, followed by a coda that swirls and shouts exuberantly.
Reviewer: Scott Albin