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The Finest In Jazz Since 1939
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Return Of The Prodigal Son (1967)


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Duke Pearson

Stanley Turrentine is generally pegged as a soul-jazz man but also has proven quite adept in several other styles of modern jazz, as heard on this diverse compilation of tunes from three initially unreleased Blue Note dates with a larger ensemble. While hitting up a handful of the pop tunes of the day, Turrentine shows he is interested in and capable of tackling more modern compositions, with the vibrant and exciting assistance of pianist McCoy Tyner, also not a slouch when soul-jazz is placed in front of him. That Turrentine plays a most enjoyable fluid, tuneful, and tonic tenor saxophone has never been questioned, but what he adds in value as a leader on these tracks further cements his estimable reputation. The distinctive flutes of Joe Farrell and Al Gibbons take flight into the atmosphere on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Bonita," where the pensive tenor of Turrrentine gives little indication that this piece will end in a warm Brazilian simmer. Tyner is in "full steam ahead" mode for "Pres Delight" (previously mistitled "Flying Jumbo"), an outstanding hard bopper that should be a classic, and deserves to be rediscovered. Joe Sample's "New Time Shuffle" was a hit for the Jazz Crusaders, and gets a full counterpoint horn treatment within a shuffle beat, while the groovy title track is completely identifiable with the big-band super-hip late-'60s soul-jazz movement à la Oliver Nelson and Quincy Jones. The second half of the program with a completely different band -- save Tyner and bassist Bob Cranshaw -- dips into the Motown pop-soul bag. Aretha Franklin's no-frills low-down "Dr. Feelgood" is done twice, the master take with Duke Pearson (who arranged all of these selections) on organ, the second time around with Tyner's piano taking more of a lead role. The funky "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and bossa-pop "The Look of Love" are done straight, while "You Want Me to Stop Loving You" returns to pure soul-jazz with Tyner's deft piano chords, the horns talking back to him, and the organ omitted -- all smart, conscious decisions. Turrentine's commercial breakthrough, "Sugar," would come three years after these recordings, so this represents a prelude to the success that would deservedly come his way. ~ Michael G. Nastos