Mississippi Lad

It’s ironic but hardly surprising that Teddy Edwards, a cult figure who should be a luminary, was able to get Mississippi Lad recorded only after Tom Waits first lobbied on its behalf, then came in to sing on two numbers. Waits’ craggy voice is a grim diversion in an otherwise stylish showcase for the veteran tenor saxophonist, composer, and lyricist. He was one of the musicians who established modern jazz in L.A. in the ’40s, but now he rarely records. Mississippi Lad is Edwards’ best album since 1967’s It’s Alright! These simple yet beguiling tunes include a kind of bop mariachi, ”The Blue Sombrero”; a fine ballad, ”The Call of Love”; and two deep blues, the title piece and ”Symphony on Central.” Edwards’ brawny tenor shares the spotlight with the speed-demon trombonist Jimmy Cleveland and elegant pianist Art Hillery. This is bop with a difference, and not because of Waits’ gravelly vocals on a couple of Edwards originals, ”Little Man” and ”I’m Not Your Fool.” Edwards, who chooses his notes carefully and personalizes them with a fireside timbre, is the definition of suave soul. A-

Mississippi Lad
  • Music