This is a typically excellent recording from the husband-wife team of tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine and organist Shirley Scott. With assistance from guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Otis Finch, Turrentine (who always had the skill of playing melodies fairly straight but with his own brand of soul) and Scott dig into "Love Letters," Lloyd Price's "Trouble," "Something Happens to Me," a couple of basic originals, and "Goin' Home." The Turrentine-Scott team never made an unworthy disc; all are easily recommended, including this one.
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)
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Down through the years there have been a number of illustrious husband and wife teams in jazz. One of the first and most famous was Louis and LiI Armstrong. Then there was vibist Red Norvo and his singer spouse, Mildred Bailey. Pianist Mary Lou Williams twice combined music and matrimony during her career; first with alto saxophonist John Williams, and later with trumpeter Shorty Baker. Clarinettist Joe Marsala's harpist was his wife, Adele Girard. Trumpeter Joe Guy backed Billie Holiday's performances during the time they were married. In the period bassist Ray Brown was wed to Ella Fitzgerald, he led the trio which accompanied her.
These are some of the more prominent wedded wailers in jazz history. Relevancy does not dictate naming all the married couples who have graced jazz, but as it stands, this is a varied, impressive list. The most recent addition is the very active twosome of Stanley Turrentine and Shirley Scott.
Stanley first attracted attention in Max Roach's group; Shirley gained recognition in a combo with tenorman Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. In the '60s they joined musically, and followed by becoming man and wife. If their performance since then can be used as a yardstick, it certainly indicates a strong argument in favor of wedded bliss. Of course, the rapport that the two had from the beginning, which led to the even closer alliance, has been further strengthened in a circle that is anything but vicious.
Both Stanley and Shirley have a great deal of warmth in their playing and they complement each other well. This is especially evident in this set where things are groovy and never strident. Kenny Burrell, one of the premier guitarists in jazz, adds his controlled fire to the proceedings and proves to be a welcome guest in the Turrentine household.
Bass and drums are in good hands. Bob Cranshaw is a powerful, straight-ahead player who has been heard to advantage with Sonny Rollins, Carmen McRae, and on several recent Blue Note recordings. Otis "Candy" Finch was a member of the wonderful small band that Billy Mitchell and Al Grey co-led a few years back. Everyone knows that a band is only as good as the sum of its parts, and Finch was a very important part in the well-oiled machinery.
"Trouble," by Lloyd Price, was first done by the Turrentines in Never Let Me Go (Blue Note 4129). This is their second version, hence "Trouble (No. 2)." It's the blues-the rhythm and blues blues. Stan is hootin' and hollerin' as the group churns up a blue foam under him. Shirley does some crying (some wailing too) about trouble, with Burrell punctuating and Finch keeping the rolling backbeat in motion. Like Stan, she reaches a peak and then lets you down easy. You are left with the feeling that this is trouble that can be surmounted.
"Love Letters" are something that S&S don't have to write to each other; they can play them instead. These envelopes are full of tender thoughts, stated in a casually swinging script. Stanley's gorgeous tone-masculine but not harsh-is heard to advantage in this Victor Young song, as Shirley comps with empathy before demonstrating her inventive right-hand solo lines. Burrell floats along in keeping with the previously established mood. Turrentine's lead voice then seals the flap and stamps the letter.
The blues are back in "The Hustler" by Turrentine. This time they are in a minor key with Kenny's azure guitar leading off the solos with a combination of earth and sophistication. Stanley sidles in to cook convincingly in his non-hysterical manner. When the fire comes from within, you don't have to flail about to communicate. Shirley's short stint caps the solo section and leads directly to the theme.
"Ladyfingers," by Shirley, is a blues waltz that pulses along with a compelling beat. After Burrell solos, the fingers of that talented lady take over the spotlight. Turrentine is third with an effort that brings the whole performance to a climax.
A ballad by Marvin Fischer and Jack Segal, "Something Happens To Me," is given a swinging treatment that does not neglect its lovely melody. Stanley, Kenny and Shirley make good use of the opportunities for buoyant, happy playing that the chord structure and the rhythm section afford. Finch is a more than able propeller.
In the 1890s, the Czechoslovakian composer, Antonin Dvorak, spent three years in New York. His New World Symphony in E minor was a result of this visit. From the second movement (Largo) came the theme which became known as Going Home. Dvorak's original inspiration supposedly was the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, entitled "Hiawatha's Wooing." Turrentine effectively woos the melody with swing, yet he retains the touch of melancholy that was inherent in the music's first form. Burrell spins out a relaxed solo, and Mrs. Turrentine finishes with a chorus that literally sings before Stanley returns to take everyone home.
A home is not necessarily a house, especially when it's a bandstand. This is where Stanley Turrentine and Shirley Scott have chosen to set up light housekeeping. Their music is not something to be taken lightly, however.
What comes forth from an instrument is supposed to be indicative of what that instrument's player is feeling. If this is true, Stanley and Shirley are one of the most happily married couples going, in or out of jazz.