When Les McCann Ltd. was ensconced at The Village Gate in New York for the last two weeks of 1961, Pacific Jazz' Dick Bock took the opportunity to fly to New York and capture the trio live. Some two and a half albums worth of material were eventually released from several days of taping the trio.
But what made the trip special was the hastily put together union of Les and Stanley Turrentine, a summit meeting of two of the most simultaneously intelligent and soulful players in jazz. Filling out the sextet was the late Blue Mitchell, then still a member of the finest edition of the Horace Silver Quintet and Frank Haynes, a wonderful and tragically under-recorded tenor saxophonist, who would die of cancer just four years after this recording.
As Les' original liner notes which appear elsewhere in this booklet explain, the whole plan was a last minute one. And there was just one brief rehearsal before the evening's performance. As a result, the band concentrated on six tunes which they repeated throughout the night to obtain the best possible take on each. That is why only one unissued piece remained in the can until this Compact Disc release.
Although Dick Bock's abilities as engineer don't measure up to his skills as a producer, this is one special gathering for which we can all be grateful. It is made even more valuable by the presence of Frank Haynes, whose great work with Randy Weston, Walter Bishop, Horace Parlan and Dave Bailey was rarely heard outside of Manhattan.
Since Pacific Jazz and Blue Note, to which Stanley Turrentine was under contract, were separate companies at the time, this live date led to reciprocal Blue Note studio session by Turrentine featuring Les McCann's piano and compositions, Herbie Lewis on bass and Stanley's drummer Otis Finch. That album THAT'S WHERE IT'S AT (84096), recorded just five days later, is now also available on CD.
Added as a bonus are two tracks that were probably done at the end of a McCann trio date. They feature Curtis Amy and Bobby Hutcherson with the trio and were issued on one of Pacific Jazz' many multi-artist compendiums at the time. As they have no real home and are very related to the Village Gate session in flavor and style, they have been added here as bonus tracks.
-- Michael Cuscuna