RVG Editon/Bonus Track
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on January 2, 1962.
Track 7 does not appear on LP configuration, previously unissued
This 1962 session places tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine in the company of pianist Les McCann, bassist Herbie Lewis, and drummer Otis Finch. Of the six cuts on the original release, McCann, who was already in serious soul-jazz territory, wrote four. His meaty three- and four-chord figures are prominently placed and, as always, his sense of time and swing are everywhere. "Smile, Stacey" kicks it off in full blowing fare with Turrentine walking the line between soul-jazz and hard bop like a tightrope. His earthy tone is particularly muscular and quick here. His own blues ballad, "Soft Pedal Blues," follows, with Turrentine doing his best Ben Webster with slow, smoky breathy tones and McCann trilling across the top on the turnarounds. The slippery soul-blues of "Pia" is a shimmering little groover by McCann with him singing along with the lines in his solo. On his "We'll See Yaw'll After While, Ya Heah," his gospel chops come pouring out into the lyric until Turrentine moves it to bluestown with his solo and picks up the tempo and changes it to a quick waltz timing. The final two tracks on the CD are different takes of Tommy Turrentine's classic "Light Blue," a swinging little blues that features fine solos by both McCann and Turrentine. There is very little to be said about the quality of Turrentine's Blue Note work, it's simply all great, and all very necessary for any fan of early soul-jazz.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
There are many who reject the idea that jazz is an art form. They view jazz as a mere commercial bagatelle, or simply as a means to a better living. As in other art forms, a constant flow of change prevails. The search for expression that influences the innovators, the woodshedding of the dissatisfied jazz artist spells art form. Its sociological concepts from blues and roots to the sophisticated modern spell art form. On the other hand, after the spit and polish has been applied, and the innovation streamlined, jazz becomes a commercial selling product geared to win friends and short trips to the bank. Jazz writers tend to cling to the art form theory. The majority of jazz musicians, however, view the idiom more realistically as primarily an affair of economic betterment with the art form theory following a close second. (Ask any jazz club owner.)
The new soul movement within the jazz idiom displays as much art form as commercialism. It contains a basic awareness that is understood and accepted readily by the masses over its other far out nuances. Soul jazz represents the most serious threat, to-date, to the monopoly or popularity enjoyed by the rock and roll business. This new "truth" has established not only new faces, but new rapport between musicians and audience (Les McCann-wise). It is now acceptable to fall out in catatonic fits or to employ such soulful verbiage as "oowhee!" without fear of relinquishing one's "cool" image.
When blues and roots, soul, and gospel influences were born of "funk" and east coast "hard cookings," emblazoned screams were heard from the intellectual wildernesses, cries of "betrayal" emanated from the typewriters of influential jazz literati. Anguished cosmopolites and pseudo-hipsters alike spoke of the new "truth" as an apparent retrogressive about-face worse than the Benedict Arnold caper. Oh! but read about the good things; soul jazz, with all its funk and fire, has brought about a new feeling, a new passion, even if its roots are viewed by many as a linkage with traditional antiquity. The rising young Philadelphia-based arranger and composer, Leon Mitchell, has aptly termed this search for the new truth as being a pause for musical "inventory," a reeval-uation, jazz-wise. This new influence has brought forth new faces from strange haunts and habitats. Rising unknowns have emerged from places like Pittsburgh, Detroit, and from the Deep South, from tenor chairs in rock and roll bands, or with rhythm and blues backgrounds (unheard of among the ranks of the cognoscenti).
Soulful impressions up to this time have spanned the gamut of emotions, from sadness to the happy feeling of the "shout." In this new sphere of soulful sounds I am constantly cognizant of new voices that emerge with vital force.
Over the years the city of Pittsburgh has been a constant source of great entertainers. The latest of these entertainment emissaries are to be found in the forms of the brothers Turrentine - Stanley, a tenor saxist, and Tommy, a new trumpet influence. Both Turrentines have made their creative presence felt in the world of jazz.
Stanley Turrentine's tenor sax accomplishments have been featured previously on Blue Note albums 84039, 84057, 84069, and the momentous Jimmy Smith wailer BST 84078. Stanley has also shown unrestrained ability as a composer of note, especially in the realm of blues and ballads. The Turrentine tenor displays none of the weak-kneed and frazzle-buttocked bleatings of many tenor sax deviates, but relies on the truly large tone of the big tenor sounds of the old masters. Yet this adherence to the big sound is tempered by a tastefully modern approach to the contemporary scene.
With reference to this session it had been the mutual desire of Stanley Turrentine and Les McCann to team up together for a record session. This meeting of two soulful minds was fulfilled and provided inspiration for this album. It was concluded by all concerned that the mainstream influence throughout the set would be "bluesy." Categorically speaking, I gravitate toward the term "unrestrained virility" in the description of the things done on this session. The listener will not only get a chance to hear the tremendous virtuosity of the Turrentine tenor, but to "dig" Les McCann in a secondary but forceful role "comping" and pushing the whole affair to a successful conclusion.
In "That's Where It's At," Stanley Turrentine, besides staunch McCann support, enlisted two able and talented musicians who are instrumental in creating the depth and vigor that made all the improvisations on this set "go."
The bass player, Herbie Lewis, had been featured with the Les McCann trio, but is now working the Art Farmer-Benny Golson group. Otis Finch, a fine and talented drummer was, at the time of this session, doing skinsman-ship chores with Shirley Scott, the prominent jazz organist.
. . . Ergo We Venture . . . Smile, Stacey
This tune is one of the most titilat-ingly delightful soul things I have heard for quite some time.
"Stacey" portrays a rollicking, bouncing freedom of expression of the "amen" corner in its opening choruses. Here Stanley is dominant as he cooks and drives with brash tenor authority. The swinging challenge is transported to the talents of Les McCann who rolls and grinds with a vitality that has become a McCann trademark. Democratically, equal time is alloted to the bass talents of Herbie Lewis as he takes a short solo chorus which is climaxed by an energetic crescendo effect by the McCann piano. Throughout the whole "stomping" affair Otis Finch's drums adequately perform what is expected of a good, tasty percussionist. The listener will undoubtedly have something to tap his foot to.
"Soft Pedal Blues": This Turrentine original opens with Stanley speaking the Blues. The McCann image is left intact; a tender solo ensues as Les briefly plays before Stanley continues the tenor mood.
This ditty stems from the creative mind of Les McCann. The "function" continues to roll as Les solos, delightfully aided by the stock cymballing of Otis Finch. Again, Stanley Turrentine walks rhythmically to the gates of "Soulsville."
"Well See Yaw'll after While, Ya Heah":
Ah yes! One of the idiomatic expressions that has transcended from "down home" to more urbane surroundings. A sort of modified 3/4-time affair. Stanley musically expresses in the opening chorus an obvious desire (please indulge) to split the scene; but Stanley suddenly remembers he has a few tenor things left to say. This gabbing mood remains as Les gossips and probes with deft piano talk. This "soulful" meeting ends with Stanley again expressing the desire to flee. Ah! jazz impressions . . .
"Dorene Don't Cry, I": I could hardly wait to get to this beautiful mood affair written by Les McCann. Although I loathe comparison (I do hope Stanley will indulge this writer to momentarily satisfy this sudden whim), I felt a slight Johnny Hodge's influence on Stanley's solo throughout this haunting melody. Les then demonstrates some tender, heart throbbing piano reminiscent of his now standard "I Remember April." Dorene tells the listener that the soul image is not just blues, shouts, or hard-cooking mayhem; the ballad also comes in for a full share of the load in this search for the "truth."
Rounds out this very tastily prepared album. Stanley and Les concur with ideas in the opening stanza. Herbie Lewis proceeds to entertain the listener with an extended bass solo which retains the "light" mood. Stanley Turrentine then blows "cool" and puts a solo end to this brief but pleasant minor interlude.
This album not only confines itself within the realm of "listener" jazz; it extends itself to the needs of adherents to the Dance . . . Goodnight World . . .
- Dudley Williams
A New Look At That's Where It's At
At the time this album was recorded, few active musicians were as ideally suited for collaboration as Stanley Turrentine and Les McCann. Each was a young modernist with deep roots in the jazz tradition and both had risen to a prominent place in what annotator Dudley Williams refers to as "the new soul movement." Yet there were two obstacles to overcome before a Turrentine / McCann partnership could be forged. The pianist, though a native of Kentucky, lived and primarily worked in the Los Angeles area, while the saxophonist's domain was decidedly East Coast. There was also the matter of recording contracts, with Turrentine a Blue Note artist and McCann signed to Pacific Jazz. Recording projects with "special guests" from rival companies have become commonplace in recent years; but in the highly competitive '60s, independent jazz labels gave permission for their stars to appear elsewhere rarely if at all, and generally only when a reciprocal appearance could be arranged.
These problems were solved when McCann brought his successful trio (known as Les McCann Ltd.) to New York for a stand at the Village Gate at the end of 1961. As the pianist tells the story in his liner notes to one of two Pacific Jazz albums that resulted (Les McCann Ltd. in New York), he met Turrentine while visiting the musicians' union, and the two immediately agreed to do an album together. A deal between the respective labels was struck, and Turrentine joined the pianist's trio, trumpeter Blue Mitchell, and tenor saxophonist Frank Haynes for the aforementioned live recording, taped on December 28th. Five days later, it was Turrentine's turn to play host, and the present collection resulted.
Both men already had favorable experience in this tenor-plus-trio format. McCann's unit had recorded in support of Teddy Edwards on the 1959 album It's About Time, before ever taping a session of its own, while one of Turrentine's initial Blue Note efforts had been his Blue Hour parley with the Three Sounds. In this instance, however, the rhythm section was not a regular working trio. As the notes indicate, Herbie Lewis was in the process of leaving the Ltd. after a yearlong tenure and relocating to New York, while drummer Otis "Candy" Finch was in the midst of his first major jazz gig with Turrentine's wife, organist Shirley Scott. Coincidentally, Lewis had recorded with Turrentine during an earlier New York visit the previous June, on Scott's Prestige album Hip Soul.
The material here is well-paced and surprisingly varied given that the first four tracks are blues, with a good mix of tempos that allow everyone to shout, preach, and whisper at the appropriate moments. McCann contributed four titles, of which all, save the medium-tempo "Pia," had previously been recorded by his trio. Of those, the standout is "Smile, Stacey," which had also been taped at the Village Gate without added horns. This romping opener starts at a level of great intensity and then builds, with a Mingus-like six-against-four feeling early in the tenor solo. Given this dynamic performance, it is surprising that others have not reprised "Stacy" more frequently, although trombonist Fred Wesley did a nice arrangement for four horns on his 1991 disc Comme Ci Comme Qa. "We'll See Yaw'll after While, Ya Heah," the Ltd's signoff number first heard on a live album cut in San Francisco, is given a full treatment here for the only time on record.
Stanley's "Soft Pedal Blues" and his brother Tommy's "Light Blue" complete the program. The latter, a relaxed 32-bar opus, had been previously recorded by Horace Parian (with Booker Ervin and Grant Green) on Parian's Blue Note album Up & Down, where Parian included an introduction that is omitted in these versions. The alternate take included here as a bonus track provides fresh solo choruses from the featured players and Lewis.
As compatible as Turrentine and McCann proved to be, they went their separate ways for the next quarter-century, reuniting only in 1984 at the time of the Blue Note label's reemergence for two tracks on the Turrentine album Straight Ahead. Their short-lived partnership, both here and on Les McCann Ltd. in New York, suggests that there was much more soulful music they might have made together.
- Bob Blumenthal, 2005