Picks and Pans Review: Straight Ahead Joyride
Turrentine, 51, is a strong-toned tenor saxophonist who has spent most of his time the past few years playing with small groups involving such people as Hubert Laws, Jimmy Smith and Grady Tate. On Straight Ahead, he sticks to that formula, though he has escalated it a little by including George Benson and Ron Carter as well as his pal Les McCann among his sidemen. This is jazz without the commercial tinges that have shaded some of Turrentine's recent small group LPs. The material was largely written by the participants; Benson's Plum and McCann's The Longer You Wait, written with singer Jon Hendricks, are among the six tracks. Joyride, a reissue from 1965, presents a different side of Turrentine. Playing in front of a big, swinging band conducted by Oliver Nelson, he seems less adventurous, almost constricted at times. That seems a fair exchange, since Nelson's sharp, uncluttered arrangements also present an effective blend with the gutsy, emotional sound of Turrentine's sax. The band includes such sometime solo stars as Clark Terry, Phil Woods, Kenny Burrell and Herbie Hancock. (It would have been enjoyable, in fact, to hear a little more of them.) Together these two albums demonstrate that while Turrentine may not be among the front rank avant-garde of jazzmen, he has found a way to remain both accessible and inventive. (Blue Note)
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