Junior Mance: That Lovin' Feelin' (2002)
The difficulty with pop culture...
This release is reminiscent of a recent Bobby Timmons release by the Fantasy Group, Quartet and Orchestra . Both recordings tried to capitalize on these famous, blues-oriented jazz pianists playing popular songs of the day (e.g., the '60s and early '70s). In unfair retrospect, Timmons faired badly. On That Lovin' Feelin', Junior Mance fairs better, but the results are far from perfect.
That Lovin' Feelin'is derived from two Fantasy-related albums recorded a decade apart. The first was The Soul of Hollywood The Piano and Orchestra of Junior Mance (Jazzland 963, 1962) and That Lovin' Feelin' (Milestone 9041, 1972). The former sports Melba Liston as the arranger and conductor of an orchestra, a presence that single-handedly saves the music from merely being an anachronism. The latter is various trio settings.
Julian Clifford Mance was born in Chicago on October 10, 1928. He began his career in the late 1940s playing with Gene Ammons and then Lester Young, followed by Dinah Washington and Cannonball Adderley. Since the 1960s, Mance has mostly led trios. He is best known for having a soulful, churchy approach to piano playing that provides him his distinctive bluesy sound. So potent is his approach and sound that no matter how much dated orchestration covers his playing, his personality still remains radiant. With the greatest irony, Mance turns the theme from "Gone with the Wind" into a blues infused ballad. That movie tune along with ten others comprises the first eleven pieces on this release. Most work, but Mance doesn't truly cook until he is back in a trio setting on the remaining cuts. Here is where Mance is at home, with gritty blues like "Frisco Blues" and "Boss Blues." He even takes "You've Lost that Lovin Feeling'" and "Blowin' In the Wind" out for a blues walk.
Like the Timmons recording, the pop music is merely interesting. It holds neither the power of raw mystery of the trio sides. Those sides are essential.
Track Listing: Never On Sunday; Maria; Tara's Theme; Fanny; On Green Dolphin Street; One-Eyed Jacks; Exodus; Invitation; The Apartment; Goodbye Again; Spellbound; You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'; Mean Old Frisco Blues; Out South; The Good Life; Cubano Chant; Boss Blues; Blowin' In The Wind; When Sunny Gets Blue; Lee's Lament. (Total Time: 73:53).
Personnel: Junior Mance-- Piano; Aaron Bell, Arthur Cunningham, Bob Cranshaw-- Bass; Harold White, Oliver Jackson, Jimmy Lovelace-- Drums; Ralph Macdonald-- Percussion; Melba Liston-- Arranger.
Record Label: Fantasy Jazz