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Jazz Reviews : Teddy Edwards Shows Technical Prowess at Alfonse’s

Teddy Edwards is one of those taken-for-granted jazzmen who have to go overseas to enjoy a full measure of recognition. Just back from a month in Europe, he played at Alfonse’s on Friday and Saturday, offering a reminder of his growing significance as a dominant figure in mainstream jazz.

The tenor saxophone has been through several cycles of evolution in terms of tone, technique and style. Edwards seems to have absorbed some of the best characteristics of each school. His generally full-blooded tone quality steers down the middle of the road, though at times, especially when he caresses a melody like “Misty,” there is even a hint of Coleman Hawkins, the original pioneer of the horn.

Along with such traditional elements, though, there is a technical prowess that has strengthened through the years. Without resorting to explosions or multinote excesses, Edwards buoys up the beat, articulately on medium tempo blues numbers, with a rare power and conviction.

As a composer, he has penned a few unpretentiously attractive pieces such as the ballad “April Love” and the energetic “No Name Number One.”

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The company he kept at Alfonse’s consisted of younger artists who have a keen sense of tradition. Most remarkably, Marc LeBrun, a 27-year-old pianist from Winnipeg, displayed his familiarity with such tunes as “Jordu” along with an admirable feeling for the blues. Completing the group were two reliable locals, Bob Maize on bass and Ralph Penland on drums. Los Angeles is fortunate to have such musicians regularly on hand; the term local musician , once used in implicit derogation, today has overtones of superiority.


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