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Dearly Beloved (1961)


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Stanley Turrentine

Stanley Turrentine was fresh from his brilliant playing on Hammond B-3 maestro Jimmy Smith's Midnight Special and Back at the Chicken Shack sessions when he officially signed with Blue Note Records in 1960, but although the hard bop sax/organ template (which later came to be called soul-jazz) seemed to fit Turrentine like a glove, his first sessions for the label found him working with a more standard jazz format highlighted by a piano-led rhythm section. On Dearly Beloved, though, paired with his eventual wife, Shirley Scott, on the B-3 and the alert and sensitive drumming of Roy Brooks, Turrentine found the perfect pocket for his big, soulful, and slightly raw and bluesy sax tone, and for those only familiar with his later pop crossover recordings with CTI Records, it's a pretty revelatory set. Tracked at a June 8, 1961 session (and released on LP a year later in 1962), Dearly Beloved features a lightly funky and midtempo take on Ary Barroso's "Baia" and a gorgeous and moving version of Turrentine's own ballad composition, "Wee Hour Theme," the perfect example of how jazz is never more than a thought away from being the blues. Scott and Turrentine ended up working together on some 15 albums for the Blue Note, Atlantic, Prestige, and Impulse labels before the decade ended, but this one, for all practical purposes, got the ball rolling on their creative collaborations, and it remains one of Turrentine's finest Blue Note outings. ~ Steve Leggett