Jazz April Birthday: Stanley Turrentine

Apr 5, 2013

His unmistakable big warm sound was based in the blues, and he polished it on the road as a 17 year-old addition to bluesman Lowell Fulson's band in the early 1950s.  That band also included Ray Charles.

Turrentine's only formal musical training came from his military service.  But he was surrounded by teachers and mentors:  His father was a saxophonist, his mother a stride pianist and his brother Tommy Jr.  a trumpeter.  Stanley married organist Shirley Scott in 1960, and their musical collaboration resulted in some of the most popular soul-jazz recordings of the era.

Stanley's work with famed organist Jimmy Smith continued the sound, and was a launching point for Turrentine's "crossover" to pop music styles.  His CTI recordings in the 1970s like Sugar and Don't Mess With Mr. T were cross-genre successes.  He never strayed too far from blues and jazz, though, and was a favorite of jazz fans worldwide.

"My music has been called rock, be-bop, rhythm and blues, jazz fusion...I just let others describe what my music is," said Turrentine in a phone interview. "If I hear something and I like it, I'll play it. I just consider myself playing good music."