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Stanley William Turrentine
Stanley Turrentine
September 11, 2000
Age 66 
Stroke 
 
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  Jazz Saxophonist, Turrentine Dies 

       By BETH GARDINER, Associated Press Writer  
 

           NEW YORK (AP) - Stanley Turrentine, a jazz saxophonist whose hit "Sugar''  established him in the popular mainstream and influenced musicians in many other genres, died Tuesday. He was 66. 

           Turrentine died at a New York hospital two days after suffering a stroke, said his agent, Robin Burgess. He lived in Fort Washington, Md., outside Washington, D.C. 

           Turrentine, who played tenor saxophone, mixed jazz with blues, rock, rhythm and blues and pop. 

           "His impact on jazz was just astonishing,'' Burgess said. "He had a large impact on fusion, electric jazz and organ trio music.'' 

           Turrentine started his career playing with Ray Charles and Max Roach. He scored his biggest hit in 1970 with "Sugar,'' which became something of a jazz standard, frequently performed and re-recorded by admirers. 

           He grew up in Pittsburgh, surrounded by music. The piano player Ahmad Jamal lived nearby, and often visited to practice on the Turrentines' upright piano. Stanley's mother played piano, his father played tenor sax and his brother Tommy played trumpet.  The brothers played at the Perry Bar in Pittsburgh, their first professional gig,  while  they were still in high school, and often performed together as adults. 

           Turrentine began traveling with a band when he was 16, and later joined one of  Charles' early rhythm and blues groups. He played in a jazz band headed by Roach and replaced the departing John Coltrane in Earl Bostic's band. 

           Turrentine went solo in the 1960s. His blues-influenced riffs brought him commercial success with albums such as ``Stan 'The Man' Turrentine,'' ``Up at Minton's,'' and "Never Let Me Go.'' When "Sugar'' brought him fame outside the jazz world, some fellow musicians accused him of abandoning artistry to pander to popular taste. 

           He said he preferred mixing genres to being boxed in. 

           "One day, my stepson and I were alphabetizing my albums over the years, and I noticed that they categorized me as a rock and roll player on certain albums, a bee-bop player on other albums, a pop player, a fusion player,'' he once said. "And I'm just saying...'Gee, I'm just playing with different settings, but I'm still playing the same way.'''  


    Monday, September 18
     Vistation 2PM-9PM
     West Funeral Home
     2215 Wylie Avenue
     Pittsburgh, PA 15219
     
     Tuesday, September 19
     Funeral Service 11AM
     Macedonia Baptist Church
     2225 Bedford Avenue
     Pittsburgh, PA 15219
     

     Burial at the Alleghany Cemetary, Lawrenceville, PA

     In lieu of flowers , Judith Turrentine asks that donations be made to the American Diabetes Association,

    300 Penn Center Boulevard, Suite 700, Pittsburgh, PA 15235.  The donation should be noted to the ADA as follows: In Memory of Stanley Turrentine, c/o Burgess Management, 3225 Prytania Street,  New Orleans, LA  70115.

 
    
  Stanley Turrentine, Soulful Tenor Saxophonist, Dies At 66

Stanley Turrentine, one of the most compelling exponents of the 1960s soul-jazz sound, died Tuesday (Sept. 12) in New York, after suffering a stroke.  He was 66.  

Turrentine cast a spell over listeners with a  tenor saxophone sound that fell somewhere between the raw growls of R&B and the sinuous sounds of post-bop jazz. He was ever ready to blend that jazz with pop and soul styles, and found his greatest success with combination on his 1970 hit "Sugar." He recorded about 50 albums in  a career that spanned as many years, and played countless sessions, including some with greats Max Roach, Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith, Tadd Dameron, Les McCann, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, and Kenny Burrell. Turrentine also accompanied organist Shirley Scott,  to whom he was married from 1961 to 1971.

Stanley Turrentine was born April 4, 1934 in Pittsburgh, the son of an amateur saxophonist, who taught Stanley how to play the tenor. (Stanley's older brother, Tommy Turrentine, would achieve fame as a jazz trumpeter.) While still a teenager, Stanley Turrentine joined up with Lowell Fulson's band (which featured pianist Ray Charles), then moved on to the R&B big band of Earl Bostic, where he replaced that group's distinguished alumnus, John Coltrane. But Turrentine was no mere honker, as some of his earliest recording sessions were for innovative percussionist Roach, which also featured Tommy Turrentine.  

Between 1960 and 1969, Turrentine recorded a series of albums for Blue Note that cemented his reputation in the soul-jazz world, in which that label played a crucial role. (Turrentine's Blue Note sets featured such accompanists as Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Roland Hanna, Horace Parlan, Grant Green, and many others.)  Then, in 1970, Turrentine signed to producer Creed Taylor's CTI  label, which released his top-selling debut album, Sugar, which featured his high-profile labelmate George Benson.  

Turrentine remained quite active over the years, recording for Columbia, Fantasy, Elektra, Music Masters, and even Blue Note again, and maintained a full concert schedule. He was preparing for upcoming appearances when he was felled by the stroke that would swiftly claim his life.  

Stanley Turrentine is survived by his wife Judith. A funeral service will be held Tuesday (Sept. 19) at 11:00 AM at the Macedonia Baptist Church in Pittsburgh. Judith Turrentine urges that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the American Diabetes Association, 300 Penn Center Boulevard, Suite 700, Pittsburgh, PA 15235. The donation should be noted to the ADA as follows: In Memory of Stanley Turrentine, c/o Burgess Management, 3225 Prytania Street, New Orleans, LA 70115.   -- Drew Wheeler, All Star News 
 

 
Tenor Titan With His Own Big Sound 

     by Kenny Mathieson 
 Copyright © 2000 Kenny Mathieson  
The Scotsman, 2000  

     Stanley Turrentine had already established his credentials as a lyrical and inventive bop and soul jazz saxophonist by the time his music found a much wider audience in the wake of his crossover hit with his own composition “Sugar” in 1970. Turrentine went on to enjoy several more such hits in a pop-jazz vein in the ensuing years, but returned to a straightahead jazz idiom in the late-80s. Whatever style he performed in, Turrentine was readily identifiable by his rich, full-bodied sound on tenor saxophone.  

     He was born Stanley William Turrentine into a musical family in the jazz stronghold of Pittsburgh. His father, Thomas Turrentine, played tenor saxophone with the famous Savoy Sultans, his mother played piano, his brother, Tommy Turrentine, was a fine bop trumpet player (he died in 1997), and another brother, Marvin, played drums. Pianist Ahmad Jamal was a neighbour, and practised regularly on the piano at the Turrentine home.  

     Turrentine later told the story of how his father helped him develop his characteristic richly focused sound on his instrument (he actually began on cello, but he switched to tenor saxophone at the age of 11 after he was taken to hear Coleman Hawkins). His father made him stand facing a wall while playing a single note for hours, concentrating on producing the full depth and richness of sound from the horn. The exercise seemed strange and even pointless to the boy at the time, and it was only in later years that he really understood its purpose, and made full use of the foundation which it had provided.  

     He formed a band with his brother to play their first professional gig at the Perry Bar in Pittsburgh while still in high school. The saxophonist toured with blues musician Lowell Fulson in 1950-51, played with Ray Charles in 1952, then worked for a time with Tadd Dameron before replacing John Coltrane in the band led by alto saxophonist Earl Bostic in 1953-4.  

     That apprenticeship left him with a wide-ranging grounding in jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues which was reflected in the eclectic musical philosophy he pursued throughout his career.  Turrentine acknowledged that he was not a genre purist, but argued that his own approach remained consistent, saying that “I’m playing with different settings, but I’m still playing the same way”.  

     He served for three years in the army, and resumed his musical career when drummer Max Roach recruited both Stanley and Tommy for his quintet in 1959-60. That high-profile association provided the launching pad for the saxophonist to form his own group in 1960, and he remained a leader throughout his career. He made his recording debut for the Bainbridge label with Stan the Man Turrentine, and cut the first of numerous records for Blue Note in 1960.  

     His Blue Note recordings of the early 1960s provide the most substantial jazz work of his career, reflected in discs like Blue Hour (1960), Up At Minton’s (1961), Jubilee Shout (1962), A Chip of The Old Block (1963) and Joyride (1965), which featured a large ensemble with arrangements by saxophonist Oliver Nelson. His sound, rich and burnished on ballads, raw and earthy on uptempo material, was always rooted in a solid bedrock of blues sensibility, and that made him an ideal candidate to shine in the emerging soul jazz genre of the late-50s and early-60s.  

     Turrentine made several recordings with the instigator of that genre, organist Jimmy Smith, and is heard on some of his most important albums, including Midnight Special, Back at the Chicken Shack and Prayer Meeting. He also worked with organist Les McCann, and performed and recorded regularly with another fine organist of the day, Shirley Scott, who was married to the saxophonist until their divorce in the 1970s.  

     His big, hard swinging tenor sound was never going to be overwhelmed by the power of the Hammond organ, and his funky, blues-laced licks and powerful soloing were tailor-made for the greasy, down-home feel of the form, which became one of one of the most popular and accessible of jazz genres. As was the way of things at Blue Note, Turrentine also appeared on albums by the label’s other leaders, including discs with Ike Quebec, Kenny Burrell, and Donald Byrd.  

     From the mid-60s, Turrentine began to explore the more commercial possibilities inherent in grafting his jazz solos onto pop material, covering versions of tunes like “What The World Needs Now” and “Blowing In the Wind” in a more easy listening style. He linked up with pop-jazz producer Creed Taylor on the latter’s CTI Record label in the early-70s, and immediately came up with his hit recording of his own soulful pop tune “Sugar”, which led to accusations of selling out from some quarters, but brought him an expanded audience.  

     He capitalised on that success with a series of smooth, often rather banal albums like The Sugar Man and Don’t Mess with Mr T for the label. Although these are generally unimpressive settings in jazz terms, Turrentine’s own playing could usually be relied on to rise above even the least inspirational material.  

     He recorded several albums for Fantasy and Elektra in the late-70s and early-80s, then retired briefly before returned to the recently relaunched Blue Note label with with Straight Ahead in 1984, on which he called in several stellar guests, including George Benson, Jimmy Smith and Les McCann. He made two more albums for the label, Wonderland (1986), a collection of tunes by Stevie Wonder, and La Place (1989), a homage to his birthplace on Pittsburgh’s La Place Street.  

     He recorded several albums pf acoustic, straight-ahead jazz for the Music Masters label in the 1990s, and continued to tour and perform around the world. His signature tenor sound remained firmly in place, and although he himself acknowledged that he was never a virtuoso, he did possess a distinctive voice and an individual style which made him one of the best known names in jazz for over four decades.  

     Turrentine lived near Washington in recent years, but died in hospital in New York after suffering a stroke. 


        Kenny Mathieson  E-mail: kenmat@dircon.co.uk 
        Kenny Mathieson is a freelance writer based in Scotland.

 

Jazzman Stanley Turrentine Dies at 66

                  By Martin Weil 
                  Washington Post Staff Writer 
                  Wednesday, September 13, 2000; Page B07  

                  Stanley Turrentine, 66, a veteran jazzman known for creativity and innovation, whose honeyed sound on the tenor sax won him renown as "The Sugar Man," died yesterday at a hospital in New York City. Mr. Turrentine, who lived in Fort Washington, had suffered a stroke three days ago. 

                  A brawny bear of a man, Mr. Turrentine blazed a jazz trail that stretched for half a century, winning four Grammy nominations and a reputation as one of the world masters of his instrument. 

                  Born in Pittsburgh on April 5, 1934, into a family that played, listened to and lived music, Mr. Turrentine played with many of the jazz greats and created a style of his own, becoming known as a synthesizer and originator. 

                  Over the years, Mr. Turrentine produced more than 35 albums, including "In the Pocket," "Pieces of Dreams," "Stanley Turrentine," "Sugar," "Yester Me Yester You" and "T-Time." 

                  During the last 15 years, when he lived in the Maryland suburbs, Mr. Turrentine was an important figure on the Washington musical scene. His activities included playing gigs at Blues Alley, working with students at the Duke Ellington High School of the Arts and performing at annual benefit gospel concerts for Shiloh Baptist Church. 

                  Few performers matched his reputation for versatility. He was admired as a composer of up-tempo pieces, a sax man at jam sessions, a gifted interpreter of classics of the jazz genre, a bluesman and a balladeer. 

                  His name was associated with be-bop, with rhythm and blues, and with a blended form known as "soul jazz." 

                  Much of his virtuosity has been traced to his origins and upbringing. "My whole family plays music," he once said. "I was raised with it. My mother played piano. My father put a saxophone in my hands and taught me to play one note at a time." 

                  It was at home that Mr. Turrentine was taught to not merely listen to the sounds coming from the family radio, but to actually hear them. Home was a place where Mr. Turrentine was called upon after dinner to identify by ear the artists playing solo on the air. 

                  It was said that Mr. Turrentine went to sleep on many nights while listening to his mother play gospel piano at a church next door. 

                  In high school, he had a band. Early performances came at school proms and at basketball games. At age 16, he went on the road with a blues band, beginning a long period of paying his musical dues. 

                  "We played in little towns you'd never think of," he said. "We played in barns, yes, barns." 

                  Those were the years of segregation and long night drives to bypass the hotels that would not take in the bandsmen. 

                  At places Mr. Turrentine played, "they used to rope off the dance floor, blacks on one side, whites on the other side, but they were all dancing to the same music." 

                  Later, he played for the Earl Bostic Big Band, then entered the Army and played for three years in an Army band.  

                  He was a man who trusted his instincts and followed a personal vision.  Beyond what technique made possible, he said, his music came from within. "I play from the gut," he once said. 

                  Finding nothing in music to be alien, he was credited with a personal fusion of the old and the new, of almost anything musical that could be heard or played on the airwaves, or in the clubs. 

                  "A lot of people ask me what I'm trying to do, and it's exactly that," he said.  

                           © Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

 
Sonicnet.com
        
 Appreciation: Stanley Turrentine Spoke To Fans With Heart, Big Sound 

By Contributing Editor Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen reports 

       The late tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine may have been best known for his crossover pop, but colleagues and critics agree that he never completely left his straight-ahead jazz roots. 

       "He always had the audience and the people in mind, but he could stretch it out when he needed to," said alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson, 73, who played with Turrentine on many occasions, the last being a gig at the Chicago Jazz Festival in 1997 with organist Jimmy Smith. 

       Turrentine died on Tuesday after suffering two strokes, one Sunday evening and another Monday morning, according to the Associated Press. He was 66. 

       Turrentine emerged as a post-bop sax player in the '50s when he replaced John Coltrane in Lowell Fulson's band, which also featured saxophonist Earl Bostic, drummer Max Roach and Smith. Bassist Ron Carter said that even though a number of legendary sax players emerged in the 1950s, Turrentine always stood out. 

       "He was one of the few sax players who came around with Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane who had his own unique sound," Carter said. "He didn't sound like anybody else, and that's not an easy thing to do." 

       Turrentine cut his first solo album, Stan the Man Turrentine, for Bainbridge Records in 1959, with Roach behind the kit. 

 

       'A True Original'

       "He was a true original," Roach, 76, said Wednesday (Sept. 13). "He played with great soul." 

       Turrentine recorded as a leader and on several of Smith's albums in the '60s, and was often criticized by jazz purists for his soul-jazz, R&B-based approach. That criticism reached its height when the title track of his 1970 CTI album, Sugar, became a pop-radio staple. 

       Orrin Keepnews, who produced Turrentine's 1976 album, Everybody Come On Out (Fantasy), said he always felt that any accusations that the saxophonist sold out missed the point. 

       "The path that he went down was a natural path for him," Keepnews, 77, said. "It's where his sound took him. It's not like he was captured and brought over to pop." 

       Carter, 63, who played on several of Turrentine's albums, recalled the saxophonist as an intense but gentle bandleader. 

       "He always had a plan of his own," Carter said. "He was also open to suggestions, but he'd always implement his plan if those suggestions weren't working out." 

       Author, Village Voice jazz critic and sonincnet.com columnist Gary Giddins said he preferred Turrentine's straight-ahead jazz playing to his more R&B- and pop-oriented work. But he said there was no denying Turrentine's unique sound. 

       "The main thing with Stanley was his big, beautiful, fat sound," Giddins said. "Not a lot of people play that way anymore, and he only got better with age. He realized that you don't have to show off and play a lot of notes to make a connection with people." 

       When Turrentine collapsed on Sunday, he was about to close out an engagement at the Blue Note club in New York City with singer Marlena Shaw. He also was set to perform later this month at the Ann Arbor Jazz & Blues Festival in Ann Arbor, Mich. 

       Still In Good Form

       Dan Forte, the Blue Note's international director of publicity and marketing, said Turrentine was in fine form during the Blue Note shows. 

       "He still had that sound," Forte said. "He never sacrificed his integrity." 

       Keepnews said that despite the criticisms of Turrentine's '70s work on the CTI and Fantasy labels, the albums still sound fresh. 

       "There's a whole lot of jazz that comes close to R&B, and that's not a discredit to either idiom," Keepnews said. "To me, Stanley's music, like Gene Ammons', was bar music of the very best kind. That's pretty damned good music." 

       Turrentine returned to more straight-ahead jazz in the '80s and '90s. His most recent release was Blue Hour — Complete Sessions, which came out in June on Blue Note. His last new recording was 1999's Do You Have Any Sugar?, on the Concord label. 

       In a press release for that album, Turrentine said, "Of all the albums I've made, I feel like the best ones are always the ones that come naturally." 

       Turrentine lived in Fort Washington, Md., near Washington, D.C. 

       Two memorial services are planned in Pittsburgh, where Turrentine was born. They'll be held 2–9 p.m. on Sunday and Monday at the West Funeral Home at 2215 Wylie Ave. Turrentine's funeral will be at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at the Macedonia Baptist Church, 2225 Bedford Ave. 

       Turrentine's wife, Judith, requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the American Diabetes Association, 300 Penn Center Blvd., Suite 700, Pittsburgh, PA 15235. Donations should be noted "In memory of Stanley Turrentine," c/o Burgess Management, 3225 Prytania St., New Orleans, LA 70115. 

       (Contributing Editor Bob Margolis contributed to this report.) 

 
 

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All-Music Guide
 Born in Pittsburgh on April 5, 1934
Died in New York City on September 11, 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! 

 "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 ~ Bob Porter, Michael Erlewine, and Ron Wynn 
 

 
 

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