Stanley Turrentine was a big man with a big sound. Known for his soulful tone and passionate style, the legendary tenor saxophonist’s masterful interpretations of popular standards and rhythm& blues hits made him one of the best-loved jazz artists of the modern era. Mosaic Records’ latest boxed set, The Blue Note Stanley Turrentine Quintet/Sextet Studio Sessions
, provides an insightful and comprehensive look at a side of the tenorman that, for the most part, has been unfortunately overlooked.
The five 5 CD set boasts six recording sessions done between 1961 and 1969 in the all-star ensemble settings that best characterized the soulfully swinging side of Blue Note Records in the tradition of Horace Silver and Art Blakey.
Although Turrentine's reputation was first built upon his classic Blue Note soul jazz albums with organist Jimmy Smith, his fiery and exuberant approach to the hard bop style displays some of his finest work on record. Despite the different setting, fans of Stanley’s blues drenched lyricism and fervent soulfulness will not be disappointed. Those qualities were always front and center throughout his career.
Here, in the typical 1960s Blue Note manner, Turrentine is accompanied by the finest musicians of the era. His older brother Tommy, who played trumpet alongside Stanley on the chittlin’ circuit in the early --50s and later with Tadd Dameron’s group and then Max Roach (available on Mosaic’s The Complete Mercury Max Roach Plus Four Sessions), is present on two sessions originally issued as Comin’ Your Way and Jubilee Shout in 1961 and 1962. The brilliant and under-recognized pianists Horace Parlan and Sonny Clark respectively add their own magic to these sessions.
Organist Shirley Scott, Stanley’s wife and musical partner for over 10 years, continues the family affair on A Chip Off the Old Block (1963), featuring the trumpeter Blue Mitchell, a Blue Note recording artist in his own right. Two previously unissued tracks recorded one week earlier add baritone saxophonist Charles Davis and trombonist Tom McIntosh. Mitchell is also present on the 1964 date, In Memory Of, along with trombonist Curtis Fuller and Herbie Hancock on piano. This date, unissued until 1980, is available here for the first time on CD.
The same holds true for Mr. Natural, another 1964 session, this time featuring the incredible Lee Morgan on trumpet, as well as McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, who at that time were pianist and drummer with the magnificent John Coltrane Quartet at its peak. The final date, Another Story recorded in 1969, features Thad Jones on fluegelhorn and a sterling rhythm section of Cedar Walton, Buster Williams and Mickey Roker.
The other outstanding musicians on these dates include guitarist Kenny Burrell; bassists George Tucker, Butch Warren, Earl May and Bob Cranshaw; and drummers Al Harewood, Ben Dixon, Otis --Candy’ Finch and Ray Barretto.
The material runs the gamut, featuring popular standards spanning half a century, originals by Turrentine, and classic compositions by Count Basie, Randy Weston, OIiver Nelson, Wes Montgomery and many more.
All of the sessions were recorded by the unparalleled engineer Rudy Van Gelder. The equally incomparable producer and co-founder of Blue Note, Alfred Lion, supervised all of the original sessions except for Another Story, which was produced by Duke Pearson.
While Turrentine is most renowned for his pioneering soul jazz excursions, and lavishly produced albums that sometimes drew accusations of selling out, his death a little more than a year ago has resulted in a re-assessment of his talent and importance. The Blue Note Stanley Turrentine Quintet/Sextet Studio Sessions offers an extraordinary opportunity for his critics to reconsider, and for his fans to expand their horizons.
As always, great detail has gone into the production of this boxed set under the supervision of Michael Cuscuna and mastered by post-production veteran Ron McMaster using 24-bit analog to digital resolution. The informative and beautifully produced booklet that accompanies this set includes a complete musical discography; a personal artist essay and track-by-track analysis by Grammy Award winner and Boston Globe columnist Bob Blumenthal; and nearly two dozen photographs from the original sessions taken by Francis Wolff.
It is requested that all reviews or articles include the following: 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."