[NOTE: This is the second time I’ve written about Stanley Turrentine on this blog. You can peruse the first time at http://tinyurl.com/JFASN79-Turrentine.]
The late Stanley Turrentine was one of the most popular figures in modern jazz. His skills, both as a tenor blower and a composer, were second to none.
Stanley Turrentine was born on April 5, 1934 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and died in New York City on September 12, 2000. His father played tenor sax, and his older brother Tommy (1928-1997) was a noted trumpet player, though he never did achieve Stanley’s level of popularity.
In a career that spanned five decades, Turrentine appeared on dozens of albums, both as a sideman and as a leader. When I wrote about him previously, the subject was his 1963 release, “Never Let Me Go.” This time ’round, we are jumping forward a couple of years to 1965. The album: “Joyride.”
The personnel involved are:
Stanley Turrentine, tenor sax
Kenny Burrell, guitar
Herbie Hancock, piano
Bob Cranshaw, bass
Grady Tate, drums
Oliver Nelson, arranger and orchestra conductor
Ernie Royal and Snooky Young, trumpets
Clark Terry, trumpet and flugelhorn
JJ. Johnson, Jimmy Cleveland, Henry Coker, trombones
Phil Woods, Alto Sax
Jerry Dodgion, alto sax, clarinet, piccolo, flute, alto flute
Budd Johnson, tenor sax, soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet
Bob Ashton, tenor sax, clarinet
Danny Bank, baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, alto flute
“Joyride” was recorded at the legendary Van Gelder Studio on April 14, 1965. My copy of “Joyride” is the Rudy Van Gelder Edition, remastered by the maestro himself, Rudy Van Gelder, in 2005.
The CD version of “Joyride” has eight songs, two more than the original vinyl LP version. Only two of the eight are Turrentine originals, with the others coming from various contributors.
The album opens with Percy Mayfield’s classic, “River’s Invitation.” This has long been one of my favorite songs, and I really enjoy Nelson’s arrangement here. The song has a happy, almost celebratory feel to it. Turrentine was just five years into his career as a professional leader, and he and the boys really gave it their “all” on this one.
Here the guys are performing “River’s Invitation” from “Joyride”:
“I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone” is next. As the title might imply, this is a rather plaintive, little-known ballad that was written by the equally little-known jump blues pianist Buddy Johnson. A dramatic opening featuring Nelson’s strings and horns quickly gives way to a melancholy refrain that is almost a 180 degree twist from “River’s Invitation.”
The third track brings us to the first of Turrentine’s own compositions, “Little Sheri.” The flute can lend a light, bright, airy touch to a song, and so goes the opening of “Little Sheri.” The horns join in briefly a minute or so in, and then Turrentine takes over.
Here are Stanly Turrentine and the guys performing “Little Sheri” from the album, “Joyride”:
The other Turrentine song we have here is next, and that is “Mattie T.” This one has a touch of military march at the beginning, but quickly segues into a lively blues piece. The trumpets and ‘bones have a field day for a while, then pull back as Turrentine steps up and takes over. This is the first song where we really get to hear Hancock and Tate. Unsurprisingly, they do a wonderful job supporting Turrentine here.
The very first version of “Taste Of Honey” that I ever heard was by Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass, in the mid-1960’s. I loved that band, and was more than a little put out at Alpert when he dismissed the guys and began recording on his own. Okay, that’s off-topic.
Back on-topic, it goes without saying (but of course I’m going to say it anyway) that the TJB’s version sounds very little like the one Turrentine and Co. give us here. I’m not going to tell you which one is my favorite, because in certain aspects, both are. Turrentine and the boys obviously love this song too, and the whole orchestra really blows it away.
Here are Turrentine and the guys performing “Taste Of Honey” from “Joyride”:
The penultimate song on “Joyride” is “Gravy Train” from the prolific Lou Donaldson. This is another in a long line of great jazz songs whose title refers to food, or food products. That used to drive me crazy when I was doing Saturday Night Jazz on KMHD, because I never got dinner until after the show was over.
Anyway, as you can hear for yourself in the video below, “Gravy Train” is good for a lot more than agitating the appetites of hungry DJ’s! 😉
This brings us to the final song on “Joyride,” Jack McDuff’s “Kettle Of Fish.” Yes, another song about food. This is a big, loud song that lets everyone stretch out and run. The high point comes quickly when Hancock gets an early solo, backed only by Tate with his brushes. Then Turrentine joins them, effectively making a fantastic trio until the rest of the horns join in.
I could insert the video of “Kettle Of Fish” here, but I’d rather you go out and buy the album instead. And buy it you should! “Joyride” from Stanly Turrentine would make a fantastic addition to your personal playlist, for a Saturday or any other night!
You can learn more about Stanley Turrentine and his music by visiting these web sites:
Thank you for reading this.
Wood Village, Oregon
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