An all-star lineup has Turrentine with Grant Green on guitar and Tommy Flanagan on piano. The rhythm section has Paul Chambers on bass and Art Taylor on drums. Green and Turrentine made few albums together, but the combination is a natural - the two greatest groove masters, bar none. Flanagan seldom appears in this type of setting and his playing is very tasteful. A studio recording by Rudy Van Gelder at Englewood Cliffs, NJ. If you can find a copy of this, it is a keeper.
- Michael Erlewine (All Music Guide)
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Stanley Turrentine and Grant Green didn't play together all that much, but when they did, the results were inevitably rewarding. Throughout much of the 1950's. Green was teamed, in his native St. Louis, with Jimmy Forrest, a saxophonist with whom Turrentine had much in common. Since the early 1970s Turrentine has frequently teamed with George Benson, a guitarist deeply influenced by Green. But apart from the two marvelous UP AT MINTON'S albums on Blue Note, the opportunities to play together were few and far between. Stanley and Grant were very much a part of the Blue Note success story of the 1960s, but Stanley worked with Shirley Scott in a trio that spent a lot of time on the road. Grant did some road work with Jack McDuff and Lou Donaldson, but mostly he stayed around New York. The fact that this previous unissued session is making its first appearance more than twenty-three years after its recording also has to do with working situations. Shortly before this date was recorded, the first meetings of the Scott-Turrentine trio were done; one for Prestige (HIP SOUL) under Scott's name (with Turrentine billed as "Stan Turner") and the other on Blue Note (DEARLY BELOVED) with Scott billed as "Little Miss Cott." The two labels stopped the foolishness shortly thereafter, but one thing was abundantly clear...this was a group that the public wanted to hear. The fact that it was a working group and that Scott and Turrentine soon married made it obvious that this would be the dominant recording made for Stanley Turrentine on Blue Note. Sure enough, NEVER LET ME GO, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK and HUSTLIN'-all on Blue Note followed in short order. A like number were done on Prestige.
Stanley Turrentine is known for his distinctive sound. It has served him well whether he was playing bebop with Max Roach or the pop funk accompaniments he worked with during his Fantasy and Elektra recordings. Seldom has it been given the task of negotiating the often challenging chord patterns of the great American songbook. Yet that is what we have here... the sole-exception being brother Tommy Turrentine's "Z.I. Blues" (for ZacharyTaylor perhaps?).
Grant Green had a good deal of success in the early 1970s playing a repertoire and using instrumentation more in keeping with an R&B artist. Yet his jazz credentials were in place long before he got into that. If Green had never recorded as a leader, his contributions as a Blue Note sideman in the 1960s would be enough to make him one of the greatest guitarists in jazz history. Like Turrentine, the most obvious of his assets is his unique sound.
For some reason success in jazz suggests a sellout or, worse, suspect credentials. Since Stanley has been as consistently popular as any tenor player over the past twenty-odd years, it should not be surprising that he has come in for his share of knocks. But there is nothing like this testing repertoire to put to rest the carping criticism.
Apart from "For Heaven's Sake" and "I Wish I Knew" (both of which are taken brighter than one might expect), there are no special treatments given these melodies. What you get is hard swinging jazz played by five great musicians without a trace of pretense or artifice. Pianist Tommy Flanagan was not a frequent Blue Note visitor, but his typically sculptured swing on all these items seems perfectly in keeping with what the music calls for. For the past decade, Flanagan has concentrated on building his own career in solo, duo and trio settings,but he is still remembered as one of the finest band pianists in the business. It would not be an overstatement to describe Paul Chambers as the finest bass player of his generation. Certainly his appearance in any rhythm section was the equivalent of the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval." Chambers, whose active musical career lasted only fifteen years, will probably be remembered for his brilliant solos (especially his arco work), but his time playing and his perfect intonation provided inspiration for virtually all the major soloists of the times (1954-1969).
1985 finds drummer Art Taylor back in New York. He spent more than twenty years as a European resident, but during the 1950s and 1960s, he was the busiest freelancer in New York. Taylor was so busy working for the Blue Note (and Prestige) that he kept a set of drums at Rudy Van Gelder's studio. This session is a good reminder of his firm, but never overbearing, presence.
Of the songs performed here, check out the hard-charging "The Way You Look Tonight." This is jazz played fast but not out of control. Stanley's big sound is evident, but listen to the flow of ideas. It is this long-lined flow of improvisation that Lester Young would refer to as "telling a story" and Stanley is most eloquent here. "More Than You Know" is the only ballad of the set, but it is worth the price of admission by itself. While Stanley has been acknowledged as a master saxophonist, he is rarely given his just due as a ballad player. This is one of his best.