Stanley Turrentine

Jazz Moods: Cool

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Stanley Turrentine's stay at Creed Taylor's CTI Records in the early '70s led to five albums of smooth light soul-jazz fusion that managed (for the most part) to mute the big, slightly raw bluesy tone that was Turrentine's strength as a tenor sax player, and thanks to deep beds of vibraphones, strings, and electric piano, his best lead lines all too often seemed to be lost in a wilderness of mellowness. Jazz Moods: Cool collects tracks from all of the CTI albums (usually it's the title tune from each), and frankly, it may well be the best way to visit this period, assuming listeners are already familiar with Turrentine's peak 1960s work on Blue Note, and his wonderful collaborations with organist Jimmy Smith on the same label. The problem with the CTI stuff is that it seldom rises to that level of gospel funkiness, and while tracks here like "Sunshine Alley," Milton Nascimento's "Salt Song," and a revamping of Marvin Gaye's "Don't Mess With Mister T." have considerable charm, in the end they are almost stylish and smooth to a fault. That, of course, was what producer Creed Taylor (and no doubt Turrentine) was after, achieving a jazz-pop crossover without totally rebuilding the engine. In that sense, these tracks hit the mark. They just don't have much spunk.

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