Every good record collection has music for many moods. Feeling frantic? Try Dizzy Gillespie
or the Ramones. Feel like dancing? Definitely the big bands. Feeling wistful? Maybe Ben Webster
or Frank Sinatra
But if you're feeling blue, you need Stanley Turrentine
, and Blue Hour
is exactly the right prescription.
Stanley Turrentine is the very definition of jazzy blues, in almost any setting, with almost any backing band. His soulful sax features heavily on two of my all-time favorite jazz-blues albums: 1960's Midnight Special
with organist Jimmy Smith
and guitarist Kenny Burrell
, and 1963's Midnight Blue
with, again, Burrell. Blue Hour
, a 1960 session with The 3 Sounds piano trio, is cut from the same cloth. This is straight-up blues, more blues and nothing but the bluessad and slow and absolutely searing.
As the title implies, Blue Hour
is one of those perfect late-night records, whether contemplating your deepest sadness or settling in for the night with a lover. It's the kind of record that most non-jazz fans think of when they think of a smoky, soul-drenched saxophone.
The original record has just five cuts, though each runs between 5 and 10 minutes. Four of the five tunes are slow, relaxed and sensual. Turrentine, of course, is the star, but pianist Gene Harris
is also spot-on, turning in great, emotional, original solos. It's hard to single out any one cut, though the opening ballad, "I Want a Little Girl," and the blues classic "Willow Weep for Me" are highlights.
The only non-ballad tune is a Gene Harris original, "Blue Riff"a bouncy blues that effectively cuts the mood and sets your toes tapping, before the record returns to slow and dreamy.
The original album is a perfect little nugget, but there is also an expanded edition. Blue Hour: The Complete Sessions
is a 2-CD set that adds eight new tracks. They're fine songs, but they actually detract from the mood, which is probably why the new cuts are on a CD of their own.
Stick with the original.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Availability: Lots of used and new copies available
Cost: About $5 for The Complete Sessions used... or just $1 or $2 for the original 5-track CD