Stanley Turrentine Biography

5 April 1934, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, d. 12 September 2000, New York City, USA. After playing cello Turrentine took up the tenor saxophone before reaching his teenage years. Born into a musical family (his father, Thomas Turrentine, played tenor with Al Cooper’s Savoy Sultans, and his brother Tommy Turrentine was a proficient trumpet player), Stanley quickly became proficient enough to turn professional. He began playing with blues and R&B bands including those led by Lowell Fulson and Earl Bostic (replacing John Coltrane), but in the early 50s he played in a band led by Tadd Dameron. In the late 50s he worked with Max Roach (replacing Sonny Rollins) and also began leading his own bands, quickly establishing a reputation for live and recorded performances. He was married to organist Shirley Scott, with whom he also made records, until 1971.

In the early 60s he recorded with Jimmy Smith, appearing on classic albums such as Midnight Special and Back At The Chicken Shack. In the same organ/saxophone soul jazz settings Turrentine himself achieved considerable commercial success, often crossing over to the mainstream pop charts. His series of albums for Blue Note Records during the 60s produced some of the finest ever soul jazz, including his crossover hit ‘Sugar’. Although his early professional experience left a considerable mark on his playing, evident in his strong affinity for the blues, Turrentine was able to adapt his style to appeal to the crossover audience for jazz-inflected popular dance music of the late 80s. Some of his albums, such as 1986’s Wonderland with tunes by Stevie Wonder, were tailored for this market, while others aimed at the hardcore jazz audience. Turrentine passed away in September 2000, two days after suffering a stroke.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.