Originally released in 1960, Stanley Turrentine’s Blue Hour was a fantastic album that featured some of the bluest jazz ever recorded. After several decades we finally get to hear the rest of what went down during those spectacular sessions with Blue Hour: The Complete Sessions.
I had been intrigued by this album for quite some time, and not just because of the numerous accolades it has garnered through the years. No, what drew me in specifically was that fantastically blue cover, with these mysterious silhouetted jazzmen holding court in the corner of a brick wall. All throughout the 50’s and early 60’s Blue Note Records had the best album covers in town and this one was no exception. I could, and probably will, write an article just based on their cover art.
Blue Hour: The Complete Sessions features the original Blue Hour album on disc 1 and eight additional tracks recorded during the same sessions on disc 2. As beautiful as the original album is, I find the tracks on disc 2 all the more engaging and perhaps even stronger in performance. Of course, the original Blue Hour follows a certain late night, way after midnight, feel that plays out perfectly with the five tracks selected. Actually, everything they recorded during those 1960 sessions has that same late night feel but I can see why those chose what they chose for the original track list. There is an unbeatable flow to the material that never once wavers from beauty.
Bearing that in mind, disc 2 kicks things up a little and gets the place jumping again. Where disc 1 is almost a lonely, solitary affair, disc 2 calls for some serious toe tapping with drink in hand, trying not to spill it, and wiling away the hours with loved ones (romantic or not). There’s just more head bopping, more “jazz” jazz, more life and energy throughout. So much so I can’t believe they didn’t release this as some kind of companion album after Blue Hour came out. Not to take away from Blue Hour, not at all, but this is some seriously addicting jazz.
The sound on both discs is fantastic and beautifully captured. Stanley’s saxophone sounds huge, with just the right amount of dry, breathy blowing that was so much a part of this era of jazz. I always love how they recorded the sax back then with that great, big greasy sound, and yet it took a certain kind of player to deliver the goods. Hank Mobley had that sound, and so does Turrentine here; Stanley is a consummate musician and in complete command of his instrument displaying both technical prowess and emotional exuberance.
One of the things that makes both of these discs such an enjoyable listen, aside from Stanley’s fantastic vigor, are the 3 Sounds consisting of pianist Gene Harris, bassist Andy Simpkins, and drummer Bill Dowdy. Every track features their impeccable ability to lay a solid foundation that continues to simmer in a nice groove throughout the entirety of the jam; they are always present in the mix, and yet never overpower the main soloist. Some of the most exciting moments occur when Stanley drops back for a moment or two and just lets the band groove things along. Although all of the 3 Sounds were supremely talented special mentions needs to be made to drummer Bill Dowdy who keeps the backbeat hopping with his classy and enthusiastic fills, always there when you need him and never when you don’t.
Blue Hour: The Complete Sessions is an excellent piece of history in the world of jazz and could do equally well as addition to an already established jazz collection, or a newbie just getting their feet wet. Getting into jazz can sometimes be a daunting affair, but with albums like this you can ease in at your own pace.
- “I Want a Little Girl” – 7:03
- “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” – 5:20
- “Blue Riff” – 6:26
- “Since I Fell for You” – 8:48
- “Willow Weep for Me” – 9:56
- “Blues in the Closet” – 5:01
- “Just in Time” – 5:41
- “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” – 5:33
- “Where or When” – 7:01
- “Blue Hour” – 5:18
- “There Is No Greater Love” – 8:27
- “Alone Together” – 4:43
- “Strike up the Band” – 5:26