As a rule, people who appreciate Ray Bryant and Gene Harris have an easy time getting into Junior Mance. That's because Mance is, like Bryant and Harris, a very lyrical and blues-minded soul-jazz/hard bop pianist -- and he has never been one those elitist, myopic jazz snobs who believes that rock, R&B, and gospel have no right to exist. In fact, Mance makes an effort to attract rock and R&B fans on That Lovin' Feelin', a 1972 project that finds the pianist joined by Bob Cranshaw, Aaron Bell, or Bob Cunningham on bass; Harold White, Oliver Jackson, or Jimmy Lovelace on drums; and Ralph MacDonald on percussion. Gratefully, Mance doesn't reach out to rock and R&B fans by running away from his jazz background. That Lovin' Feelin' is essentially an album of acoustic-oriented jazz, but it is acoustic-oriented soul-jazz/hard bop that grooves in a funky, churchy, down-home fashion. Thankfully, That Lovin' Feelin' is not the sort of album that finds the artist playing note-for-note covers of rock and R&B hits and calling it "jazz" -- when Mance tackles Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" and the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," he brings a real jazz mentality to the table. Mance is as swinging on major rock and soul hits as he is on Ray Bryant's "Cubano Chant" and bluesman Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "Mean Old Frisco Blues," which is an interesting choice for a jazz instrumentalist. Originally released on vinyl in the early '70s, That Lovin' Feelin' was reissued on CD in 2002 -- that year, Fantasy reissued That Lovin' Feelin' and 1961-1962's orchestral The Soul of Hollywood back-to-back on a 69-minute Milestone CD. Although not quite essential, That Lovin' Feelin' is an enjoyable, swinging effort that deserves credit for having an interesting variety of material.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson