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 sreamlined, 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 audiences (Les McCannwise). 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 on "Funk" and east coast "Hard Cookings," emblazoned screams were heard from the intellectual wildnernesses, cries of "betrayal" emanated from the typewriters of influential jazz literati. Anguished cosmopolities 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 re-evaluation jazzwise. 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.
The city of Pittsburgh has constantly, over the years, been a 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 skinsmanship chores with Shirley Scott, the prominent jazz organist.
. . . ERGO WE VENTURE. . . SMILE, STACEY
This tune is one of the most titillatingly 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 sock cymbaling of Otis Finch. Again, Stanley Turrentine walks rhythmically to the gates of "Soulsville."
We'll 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 Hodges influence on Stanley's solo throughout this haunting melody. Les then illustrates 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. . . GOOD NIGHT WORLD. . .
-- Dudley Williams