Stanley Turrentine: The Blue Note Stanley Turrentine Quintet/Sextet Studio Sessions (2002)
Spread over the course of five discs, it’s the cream of the crop that constitutes the bulk of this superb package honoring one of the finest hard bop saxophonists of the modern era. Among a stable of Blue Note’s main men, Turrentine made his debut set as a leader for the label in 1960 and over the course of the next 10 years he would add to his own distinctive catalog while contributing to a whole slew of classics by fellow label mates. Together for only a brief time, Stanley and his brother Tommy teamed up with pianist Horace Parlan and his trio (George Tucker and Al Harewood) and produced such hard bop delights as Speakin’ My Piece and On the Spur of the Moment. Cut of similar cloth, Comin’ Your Way features the same quintet and while recorded in 1961, the album didn’t appear in stores until 1987. One of Stanley’s favorite standards, “My Girl Is Just Enough Woman For Me,” takes a bow here, as does Tommy’s appealing “Thomasville.”
Also receiving a inexplicably belated release, Jubilee Shout finds the Turrentine Brothers fronting an all-star sextet with Kenny Burrell, Sonny Clark, Butch Warren, and Al Harewood. A repeated four-note figure sets up the opening vamp of the title track, complete with tambourine and an authentic gospel feel that is positively infectious. Over the course of some ten minutes, each soloist builds the intensity and the end result is one of Turrentine’s most vital statements. Sorry to say, the rest of the session doesn’t quite live up to the expectations set by the opening gambit (possibly a reason for the session being held in the can), but there’s still enough of substance to make this one worth a listen.
Never before available in the US on CD, the 1963 sessions for A Chip Off the Old Block offer a different view of Turrentine as he collaborates with wife and organist Shirley Scott. The concept involved covering material associated with Count Basie and to go for the kind of light swinging groove that had been part and parcel of that great organization. Without resorting the typical bombast usually associated with the Hammond organ, Scott fits the bill perfectly and trumpeter Blue Mitchell is equally lyrical. A week before the issued sessions took place, a slightly different ensemble with trombonist Tom McIntosh and baritone saxophonist Charles Davis added tackled “Cherry Point” and “One O’Clock Jump” and while these performances were initially rejected and offer no revelations, their inclusion here makes for some interesting comparative listening.
Two 1964 sets that were posthumously released in 1980, In Memory Of and Mr. Natural could arguably considered the pick of the litter as they offer some atypical choices for material and the bands are only of the highest caliber. The former finds Blue Mitchell again on the front line with Stanley and Herbie Hancock at the piano. Two pieces associated with Randy Weston, the title track and “Niger Mambo,” are Latin romps with Mickey Roker adding some tasty percussion overdubs. As for the latter, it’s a revelation to hear Turrentine for his one and only appearance with Coltrane rhythm mates McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones. “My Girl Is Just Enough Woman For Me” makes a return appearance and even the tepid Beatles line “Can’t Buy Me Love” ends up hitting a solid groove.
Somewhat of a minor gem, the 1969 date Another Story would be Turrrentine’s swansong for Blue Note and a return to more mainstream sensibilities after previously recording some misguided pop-inflected sides for the label. Trumpeter Thad Jones makes a rare appearance as sideman, with Cedar Walton, Buster Williams, and Mickey Roker rounding out the quintet. Five lengthy cuts give everyone a chance to stretch out and even if the sound is uneven, the musical statements are not.
All of the music heard on this set, housed in a 12 x 12 box, has been remastered at 24-bit resolution. A 12-page booklet includes session notes by Bob Blumenthal and vintage photos by Francis Wolff. As with all of Mosaic’s sets, this one is limited in quantity (5000, to be exact) so procrastination is not recommended. All recordings are available solely through Mosaic Records; 35 Melrose Place; Stamford, CT 06902; (203) 327-7111. Check their website at www.mosaicrecords.com for more information or to place an order.
Track Listing: 40 performances, including four previously unissued takes
Personnel: Stanley Turrentine (tenor saxophone) with Tommy Turrentine, Horace Parlan, Herbie Hancock, Elvin Jones, Lee Morgan, Cedar Walton, and others
Record Label: Mosaic Records