Classics: Stanley Turrentine – Sugar (CTI Records)
Not to be missed with Roy Ayers‘ track of the likes, ‘Sugar’ is another of those incomparable Jazz recordings. In the caliber of Miles Davis‘ ‘So What’, Vi Redd and Count Basie‘s ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ and other Pharoah Sanders‘ ‘The Creator Has A Masterplan’. Thus opening Stanley Turrentine‘s account on Creed Taylor‘s CTI Records back in 1971.
The title track of his album of the likes, ‘Sugar’ is most definitely Be Bop gem must have. Perfectly showcasing the skills of Lonnie Liston Smith on electric piano, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet. Not to mention George Benson on guitar, and Ron Carter on bass.
No need adding it’s better havin’ the album version of ‘Sugar’ than the single which, released as a 7inch, had to be split into 2 parts…
“Be Bop a lula, she’s my sugar!”
A native of Pittsburg, PA, Stanley Turrentine hails from a family of musicians. With his dad playing along with Al Cooper’s Savoy Sultans as a saxophonist. His mom playing stride piano. And his brother, Tommy, becoming a trumpet player.
With Jean-Baptiste “Illinois” Jacquet standing as one of his major influences, he came to professionally play with his tenor saxophone in the 50’s. Eventually joinin’ the formations of Earl Bostic and Lowell Fulson. But also playing with Ray Charles and Max Roach. With the year 1960 seeing him marrying organist Shirley Scott. Then delivering his debut-album – ‘Look Out’ – for Blue Note.
A definitive workaholic, Stanley Turrentine could release up to 5 albums a year. Alone or as a sideman, the way he did for instance back in 1963. Thus collaborating with countless luminaries. From Donald Byrd to Les McCann, Mongo Santamaria and Horace Silver to name but a few.
Strangely enough; the arrival of the 70’s marked the one of a new era for Stanley Turrentine. Leavin’ Blue Note and, in the meantime, comin’ to explore fusion. This after his professional split and divorce from Shirley Scott.
He would score one of his biggest successes with the release of his first album – ‘Sugar’ – on Creed Taylor‘s CTI Records label back in 1971. Thus working with producer Gene Page. Two years after, he most definitely reached another peak. This with the Marvin Gaye penned ‘Don’t Mess With Mister T.’
1974 saw the release of his aptly titled ‘Pieces Of A Dream’ album. The latter featuring gems such as his cover version of Barry White‘s ‘Midnight And You’. But also his own interpretation of the Leon Ware penned ‘I Know It’s You’.
Marking his arrival on Fantasy Records, his 1975 album saw him venturing into cinematic atmospheres. This with the Gene Page produced ‘Spaced’ serving as its title track.
Turrentine also happened to flirt with Disco vibes. This back in 1978 on his ‘What About You!’ album and ‘Disco Dancing’ which also happened to see the light as a 12″. Then would come the end of the decade and, you’ve guessed it, his arrival on a new label (Elektra) in 1979. His 1982 ‘Home Again’ album seein’ him jammin’ in a vein somehow reminding of George Benson‘s ‘Give Me The Night’ on the groovy ‘I’ll Be There’. Meanwhile ‘You Can’t Take My Love’ featuring Irene Cara on vocals adds to the value of this effort.
The man eventually returned to Blue Note by the mid 80’s, teamin’ up with Jean Carne on the smooth ‘Night Breeze’ from his 1989 ‘L.A. Place’ album. Meanwhile one could see him sharing the bill with Freddie Jackson on ‘Good Morning Heartache’, from his 1985 ‘Rock Me Tonight’ album. Then join Will Downing on his stellar cover version of John Coltrane‘s ‘A Love Supreme’ in 1988. Then Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves on their cover version of ‘At Last’ as immortalized by Etta James. And Caron Wheeler on ‘Blue (Is The Colour Of Pain)’ to name but a few.
Stanley Turrentine released an impressive total of 75 album. With his latest – ‘Do You Have Any Sugar’ – back in 1998, featuring Harvey Mason, Joe Sample and Greg Phillinganes among other musicians.
Stanley Turrentine sadly died two days after suffering a stroke in NYC on Sept. 12, 2000, aged 66…