Stanley Turrentine – 1968 – Common Touch
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A really great later Blue Note session from Stanley Turrentine, a small combo set that’s almost a return to the format of earlier years! The group’s a strong one and features Shirley Scott on organ, Jimmy Ponder on guitar, and Idris Muhammad on drums playing in a style that’s subtler and more laidback than his work with Lou Donaldson, but which still has a nice funk undercurrent. Stan’s horn is in wonderful form on the record – really taking advantage of the longer tracks to open up with a mellow and exploratory tone – and the team of Scott and Ponder especially sounds great next to each other on the album.
A1 Buster Brown 5:20
A2 Blowin’ in the Wind 5:45
A3 Lonely Avenue 8:02
B1 Boogaloo 6:20
B2 Common Touch 6:15
B3 Living Through It All 7:15
This 1968 recording represents soul-jazz at its best.
I’ve always enjoyed Stanley Turrentine’s full sax sound. Many modern players seem to be afflicted with the mistaken concept that soulful sax playing demands that the highest notes be grabbed at all times. This, unfortunately, becomes repetitious, trite and ineffective in short order. Turrentine knew, better than most, how to coax the emotion out of his instrument without reaching for high notes any more than was necessary. This soul-jazz release is drenched with feeling.
Bob Dylan fans might be put off by Turrentine’s up-tempo version of Blowin’ In The Wind and view it as a misinterpretation of the song’s intent. I think that Turrentine’s rendition works just fine. The final track, Ain’t No Way, was written by Carolyn Franklin.
This was a small group session in which Turrentine was assisted greatly by his then wife, Shirley Scott, on what sounds like a Hammond B-3 organ. Ms. Scott plays with much feeling and restraint and provides soulful body in all of the compositions. I always found her contributions tasteful and enjoyable. She was never flamboyant or self-indulgent, at least during her sessions with Mr. Turrentine.
If you enjoy soul-jazz, I highly recommend this release.
By Douglas Payne
Blue Note’s been digging deep in the vaults and turned up one long-forgotten gem in Common Touch , a joint production between the former husband-and-wife team of Stanley Turrentine and Shirley Scott. Ms. Scott has always been a vastly underrated organ player who crafted her own light and airy sound out of some dead-serious blues. She was also a much better-suited partner to her ex-husband’s deep, rich and individual tenor than even Jimmy Smith. There’s clearly an unmistakable emotional telepathy here. The Turrentines recorded on more than a dozen occasions throughout the 60s for a variety of labels (Blue Note, Prestige, Impulse and Atlantic); the best of which is Turrentine’s Let It Go (Impulse) and Never Let Me Go (Blue Note) and Scott’s Blue Flames , The Soul Is Willing , Soul Shoutin and this late entry from 1968, Common Touch.
What makes this different is the addition of the agile guitarist Jimmy Ponder (like Turrentine, a Pittsburgh native) and a markedly funkier edge — nothing Turrentine, Scott, Ponder, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Idris Muhammed couldn’t do in their sleep. Common Touch rocks with a funky groove that is catchy and thoughtful all at once. “Buster Brown” simmers at a boil without condescending or collapsing.
Ms. Scott’s hot “Boogaloo“, featured on last year’s The Lost Groovescompilation from Blue Note, works some sparkling interplay into a hip-grinding groove. And just when you think no jazz could loosen up Dylan’s “Blowin in the Wind“, listen to how funky it gets here. A bonus is the addition of a long, sizzling blues recorded by more or less the same group earlier in the year, “Ain’t No Way” (from a from May 1968 session that was eventually featured as the title cut to an album released under Turrentine’s name in 1981). The joy of this zesty release is the chemistry of the rhythm section and the ideal combination of the tenor player, his former wife and the guitarist from his hometown. Good tunes, great playing and talented players make this a real winner.
Even though popular opinion in jazz circles seems to deny it, the Blue Note legacy includes some first-class music after Alfred Lion sold the label to Liberty in 1967. Common Touch is a great example.