Stanley Turrentine

Pittsburgh, US
Artist / Band / Musician
He left us way to soon, but he did leave us with a lot of great music. ****Stanley Turrentine (1934-2000)Stanley William Turrentine was one of the most distinctive tenor saxophonists in jazz. Known for his big, warm, sound, "The Sugar Man" or the original "Mr. T" found inspiration in the blues and turned it into a hugely successful career with a 1 hit and four Grammy nominations -- first in R&B and then in jazz.

Born on April 5, 1934 in Pittsburgh, a city that has produced more than its share of jazz masters, Turrentine hailed from a musical family. His saxophone-playing father was a big influence, as was his stride piano-playing mother and older brother, the late trumpeter Tommy Turrentine.One of Stanley's earliest influences on sax was tenor great Illinois Jacquet. Jacquet once encouraged a 12-year old Stanley to sit in with him. At 17, Turrentine went on the road with bluesman Lowell Fulson. In 1953, he was hired by R&B saxman and bandleader Earl Bostic to replace John Coltrane.

A consummate musician who learned his craft through disparate experiences and influences, Turrentine received his only formal musical training during his military stint in the mid-'50s. In 1959, he jumped from the frying pan into the fire when he left the military and went straight into the band of the great drummer Max Roach.Turrentine married organist Shirley Scott in 1960. When they moved to Philadelphia, they befriended Hammond B-3 organ legend Jimmy Smith and Turrentine quickly immersed himself in the Smith's soulful jazz organ sound. He even recorded on Jimmy's epochal Blue Note album Midnight Special.

The organ-centered soul-jazz that Jimmy Smith and Shirley Scott concocted provided Turrentine the perfect gateway to cross over into pop territory. His first foray in this new, more radio-friendly music began in 1969 when he signed with Creed Taylor's slick and successful CTI label.

Turrentine's first album for CTI, Sugar, was released in 1970 and yielded the classic tune of the same name. He continued with a string a pop-laced crossover albums for CTI including the 1971 hit Don't Mess with Mr. T. His relative success, despite his continued ability to deliver in the straight-ahead jazz vein, led to a predictable critical backlash.Nevertheless, Turrentine persevered on the ever-changing landscape of jazz, by tapping into his enduring, soulful sound and bluesy approach. He remained a perennial favorite among jazz fans well up to his untimely death on Sept. 12, 2000.***** Jazz Profiles from NPR

Produced by Njemile Carol Jones *******Stanley Turrentine (1934-2000)While highly regarded in soul jazz circles, Stanley Turrentine is one of the finest tenor saxophonists in any style in modern times. He excels at uptempo compositions, in jam sessions, interpretating standards, playing the blues or on ballads. His rich, booming and huge tone, with its strong swing influence, is one of the most striking of any tenor stylist, and during the '70s and '80s made otherwise horrendous mood music worth enduring.

To give you an idea where Turrentine is coming from: Early on, he toured with the R&B band of Lowell Fulson (1950-1951) whose featured pianist at the time was a young Ray Charles. From 1953-1954 he worked with Earl Bostic (perhaps the greatest R&B sax player of all time), where he replaced John Coltrane. He also worked and cut his first albums with Max Roach (1959-1960). Turrentine started recording as a leader on Blue Note in 1959 and 1960, while also participating in some landmark Jimmy Smith sessions such as Midnight Special, Back at the Chicken Shack and Prayer Meeting.His decade plus association with Shirley Scott was both professional and personal, as they were married most of the time they were also playing together. They frequently recorded, with the featured leader's name often depending on the session's label affiliation. When they divorced and split musically in the early '70s, Turrentine became a crossover star on CTI. Several of his CTI, Fantasy, Elektra and Blue Note albums in the '70s and '80s made the charts. Though their jazz content became proportionally lower, Turrentine's playing remained consistently superb. He returned to straight ahead and soul jazz in the '80s, cutting more albums for Fantasy and Elektra, then returning to Blue Note. He's currently on the Musicmasters label. Almost anything Turrentine's recorded, even albums with Stevie Wonder cover songs, are worth hearing for his solos. Many of his classic dates, as well as recent material, is available on CD.Turrentine is an original, a one-of-a-kind. He does not fit neatly into ordinary jazz categories. What makes Turrentine great is his deep love of the roots of jazz — blues and groove music. He never abandoned these roots to join the more cerebral set of jazz soloists. His recording partnership with Jimmy Smith has given us some of the finest funk groove music of all time, a high-water mark for both artists. This man likes to groove and play funky music! He won't be tamed!Dudley Williams, a reviewer for Bluenote proclaimed, "The Turrentine tenor displays none of the weak-kneed and frazzle-buttocked bleatings of many tenor sax deviates, but relies on the truly large tone of the big tenor sounds of the old masters. " Stanley Turrentine continued playing to enthusiastic audiences right up until the end. Turrentine suffered a massive stroke in early September of 2000, and died less than a week later on September 12.*


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