Alto saxophonist and flutist James Spaulding has been an important contributor to modern jazz for decades. Both Duke Pearson's The Right Touch (1967) and Stanley Turrentine's The Spoiler (1966) are arranged by composer/pianist Pearson who calls upon Spaulding to play key lead alto and standout flute parts. Though his solo space is limited on both sessions, his musical statements are powerful.
"Magilla on The Spoiler provides Spaulding space to stretch out on a blues in G that has a bit of a gospel feel to it, complete with tambourine on the upbeats. Spaulding's two choruses are striking in his use of bluesy wails, moans and trills, contrasting the classical sound of his flute on "Maybe September . The Spoiler, of course, features the beautiful, deep sound of Turrentine's tenor throughout the recording. "When the Sun Comes Out is played as if it's a slow blues, yet it was a popular tune from the '40s, Turrentine singing on tenor from beginning to end. The other horns Blue Mitchell (trumpet), Julian Priester (trombone) and Pepper Adams (baritone) provide backgrounds but Spaulding's lead alto is a clearly singing foil to the leader. Drummer Mickey Roker grooves throughout, yet he really shines on "La Fiesta where he turns in an unaccompanied solo.
For The Right Touch Spaulding is afforded a little more solo space. On "Los Malos Hombres , an up-tempo minor key burner, he uses the entire range of the alto, from low register honks to high notes that project with emotional strength. Turrentine, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard (who is in top form), Pearson and Grady Tate (drums) all solo; However the baddest man here may be Tate: his unaccompanied solo is original (no discernable licks from "Philly Joe, Max Roach, Art Blakey, etc.) and full of feeling, sincerely fresh and exciting. "Rotary is a very interesting and unique tune; In the rarely used 6/4 meter, it sets up an A-B-A form with each section being measures in length. Despite what sounds like a tricky form, Spaulding navigates it with skill and excitement, grooving as hard as anything else on this recording. At times Pearson's writing is reminiscent of Horace Silver, but on "Make it Good we hear the difference in their playing styles. While Pearson's lines are direct and accurate, like Silver's, where Silver digs in, Pearson floats over the rhythm section.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: The Magilla; When the sun come out; La Fiesta; Sunny; Maybe September (Theme from the Oscar);You're Gonna Hear From Me; Lonesome Lover.
Personnel: Blue Mitchell, trumpet; Julian Priester, trombone; James Spaulding, alto sax, flute; Stanley Turrentine, tenor sax; Pepper Adams, baritone sax; McCoy Tyner, piano; Bob Cranshaw, electric bass, acoustic bass; Mickey Roker, drums; Joseph Rivera, shakers, tambourine.
The Right Touch
Tracks: Chili Peppers; Make It Good; My Love Waits (O Meu Amore Espera); Los Malos Hombres; Scrap Iron; Rotary; Los Malos Hombres(alt. take).
Personnel: Freddie Hubbard: trumpet; Garnett Brown: trombone; James Spaulding: alto sax; Jerry Dodgion: alto sax & flute; Stanley Turrentine: tenor sax; Duke Pearson: piano; Gene Talor: bass; Grady Tate: drums; Joseph Rivera: shakers, tambourine.