Friday, June 15, 2012

Don't Mess With Mister Turrentine

Another new remastered CD celebrating 40 years of CTI Records is the CTI Masterworks release of Stanley Turrentine’s Don’t Mess With Mister T. Backed by a Big Band Orchestra (horns and strings) arranged and conducted by Bob James, the original album has been augmented by 4 additional tracks for a full hour of music. James along with Harold Mabern, Richard Tee and Johnny Hammond handle the keyboards, Ron Carter is on bass, Eric Gale on guitar and Irdis Muhammed and Billy Cobham can be heard on drums.

Turrentine had come a long way from the days of touring with Lowell Fulson (Ray Charles on piano), but his music never lost its blues roots and its present in his playing on the title track, a soulful Marvin Gaye composition followed by Turrentine’s mid-tempo groover, Two For T. that has the feel of an organ combo with Gale chording while Mabern takes a nice electric piano solo with carter and Muhammed (with a short break) laying down the steady groove. Turrentine’s Too Blue is another medium tempo blues groover with Richard Tee’s organ and backing horns to support Mr. T’s blues playing and Gale’s jazzy single note solo also benefits from spare use of horn riffs. Turrentine’s warm ballad playing and Gale’s bluesy fretwork and Tee’s churchy organ are heard on Bruce Hawes’ I Could Never Repay Your Love. James arrangement merits mention as the employment of horns and strings complement Turrentine on this and do not get syrupy.

Pieces of Dreams is the first of the bonus selections and the strings are a bit too prominent although Turrentine and rhythm section sounds fine when the strings lay out. The alternate take of the Marvin Gaye title track has Billy Cobham on drums and Johnny Hammond on organ and has more of blowing feel as the horn section and strings lay out. Hammond and Gale really tear into their solos while Turrentine exhibits considerable passion. Hammond, Gale and Turrentine exhibit more fire in Cobham’s Mississippi City Strut, and while James’ Harlem Dawn is not a striking a composition perhaps, it is a nice moody performance with more robust tenor saxophone.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with the first four tracks that constituted the original album. The addition of the bonus tracks (especially the last three) makes the CTI Masterworks reissue of Don’t Mess With Mister T., an even stronger showcase for Stanley Turrentine’s tender yet muscular, bluesy and soulful tenor saxophone.

A publicist sent me the review copy. And here is Mr. Turrentine playing the title track

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