Shirley Scott

Walkin' Thing

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One of Shirley Scott's last viable recordings before she passed away is a sweet, delicious collection of jazz standards and originals with a fresh-faced group that the organist was happy she was able to present, if the music is any indication. Young trumpeter Terell Stafford and tenor saxophonist Tim Warfield -- friends and colleagues going back to their college days -- make for a formidable and compatible front line. They trade melody lines and work in tandem on a sonorous level that reflects a brotherhood and agreed vision within the modern mainstream idiom. With veteran bassist Arthur Harper (ex-John Coltrane) and drummer Aaron Walker, this cohesive quintet takes off, with Scott's sympathetic and underscored style laying back to allow her young men to soar, fly, and swing. The band fairly bristles with excitement on the Panamanian freedom song "Carnival," as strong horn lines go back and forth, then a subdued organ solo settles the song down. The title track, the classic Benny Carter tune, lopes along over 11 very soulful minutes with wonderful harmony from Stafford and Warfield -- perfect no-fault jazz. Scott is supportive to the maximum during Irving Berlin's "Remember," a great example of how she refuses to upstage or get in the way of her young charges. Harper's atypical role as a bassist in an organ combo also allows the horn players to take charge further, in Stafford's case when he leads off on his easygoing original "D.T. Blues," or alongside Warfield during Scott's airy Brazilian tribute to Harold Vick, "What Makes Harold Sing?" Where "Shades of Bu" is clearly dedicated to Art Blakey in its swing/shuffle beat, there are also distinct echoes of John Coltrane in this definitive straight-ahead music that reflects the best of '60s jazz. Scott, always mindful of romantic moments, sets the horns aside for a purely heart-wrenching, ultra-slow take of Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman" with a gospel flavoring. On this solid top-to-bottom recording, and one of her better contemporary efforts, Shirley Scott carries on fine and mellow, emphasizing her strengths and letting her very capable band do the work while she lingers in her own serene, soulful way.

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