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Never Let Me Go (1963)

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Stanley Turrentine

This 1961 groove date by Stanley Turrentine is an example of him at his fiery peak. Far from the slow groover of the CTI years, Turrentine's early Blue Note sides were massive and bright, saturated in deep soul and blues. This set featured Turrentine's wife, organist and composer Shirley Scott, and a pair of alternating rhythm sections. The first is Major Holley on bass and Al Harewood on drums, and the second is with Sam Jones and Clarence Johnston. Latin Conguero Ray Barretto appeared with the Holley/Harewood band. The set opens with a stomping version of Lloyd Price's "Trouble," with Scott taking the early solo while driving the groove. Turrentine burns the edges of the tune and Barretto punches up the middle with decorative flourishes and fills. This is followed by the a deeply moving read of "God Bless the Child." With Turrentine playing in his smokiest, silkiest, Ben Webster-inflected tone. Scott's solo, by contrast, is pure blues. The coolest tune on the set is "Major's Minor," written by Stanley and Shirley. With its seeming quotations from "So What?" and "Chim Chim Cherie," in the foreground, it gives way to a completely funky blues, which is a bit of a surprise. But the easy swing and in-the-pocket saxophone soloing punctuated by fat, grooved-out chords by Scott make it the gem it is. The alternate rhythm section of Jones and Johnston appear on the title track. This is one of those grand ballads where the organ acts as the testifying pulpit from which to speak, and Turrentine not only speaks, he weeps and whispers and wails here. All the while his rhythm section layers washes of percussion and muted changes in ever-present but subtle shades of blue. It's a stunner. ~ Thom Jurek