Stanley Turrentine (1934-2000)

"I became one with your horn the first few notes I played." ~ Stanley Turrentine


"While highly regarded in soul jazz circles, Stanley Turrentine was one of the finest tenor saxophonists in any style in modern times. He excelled at uptempo compositions, jam sessions, interpreting standards, blues, and ballads. His rich, booming and huge tone, with its strong swing influence, was one of the most striking of any tenor stylist, and during the '70s and '80s made otherwise horrendous mood music worth enduring.

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 organist/pianist 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 will always be 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 loved to groove and play funky music! He couldn't be tamed!"

-- Bob Porter, Michael Erlewine, and Ron Wynn, All Music Guide

"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." -- Dudley Williams, reviewer for Bluenote.

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