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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 Grooves compilation 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. Kudos to Blue Note for its active interest in bringing back this music. 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.