Stanley Turrentine

Stan the Man

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This 1960 date is an interesting transition not only for Stanley Turrentine, who honed his chops on Dexter Gordon's style of bebop and the hard bop of the late '50s, but also for those hard boppers on this date who were perhaps taking in the idea of groove and soul or Horace Silver's funk for the first time. Here the band consists of innovative pianist Sonny Clark, bassist George Duvivier, drummer Max Roach, and pianist Tommy Flanagan. Now, was the young Turrentine in hot company or what? The set begins with a shifty blues called "Let's Groove" that features Turrentine at war with himself, not knowing which way to lean, toward Gordon's easy, loping bop stylistics or toward the ridge in the riff that calls for a blues get down. Roach steers him toward bop and he goes that direction, but not before laying in the cut for a few measures first. Later, on "Minor Mood," Turrentine takes the bop cadence and tosses it out the window in favor of a slippery blues-groove feel, and this time it's the rhythm section who goes along. Roach's accents in the pocket pull Turrentine down into the middle, and Clark just vamps through and through with choppy, funky chords painting the whole thing red. The ballads work, too, as Turrentine's tone even in 1960 was sweet enough to play them without grappling with the edges, but meaty enough to make them sound like real jazz -- which they were. Duvivier is particularly wonderful on this date, as his versatility between Clark's driving style and Roach's hyperactive dancing is the perfect balance, allowing the young saxophonist to explore in detail his ever-widening lyrical style.