Sunday, June 16, 2013

SHM-CD of the Month: "Stanley Turrentine: Sugar"

SHM-CD of the Month
Stanley Turrentine: "Sugar" (CTI)

Produced by Creed Taylor
Recorded, Mixed & Mastered by Rudy Van Gelder
Cover Photo by Pete Turner
Liner Photos: Chuck Stewart
Album Design: Elton Robinson
Liner Notes: Ira Gitler & Hiroshi Takano
SHM-CD Reissue Produced by Creed Taylor

Featuring: Stanley Turrentine (tenor sax), Butch Cornell (Hammond organ), Lonnie Liston Smith (Fender Rhodes electric piano) Ron Carter (acoustic bass), Billy Kaye (drums), George Benson (electric guitar), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Richard "Pablo" Landrum (congas)

Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar", the saxophonist's legendary debut solo LP for CTI, was recorded in November 1970 at Van Gelder Studios in New Jersey, with the sidemen cast mixing Creed Taylor's top choice session men (Hubbard, Benson, Ron Carter) and lesser known great musicians like Butch Cornell, Billy Kaye and Richard "Pablo" Landrum, an excellent conga player who would later be recruited for Freddie Hubbard's "Straight Life" album.

In his liner notes for the original 1971 LP release of "Sugar" (preserved on this new SHM-CD reissue, along with additional text in Japanese), top jazz historian Ira Gitler wrote: "Turrentine has become known for a passionate, robust brand of tenor saxophone out of the swing masters like Ben Webster and Don Byas, touched by Sonny Rollins and the modernists along the way. More than any of its parts, however, is the whole of Turrentine's style; the big, vocal sound with its declarative, upper-register cries, and the powerful, Cadillac drive."

"Both organist Butch Cornell and drummer Billy Kaye are members of Turrentine's present combo. Cornell, Chattanooga born, was found by Stanley in Harrisburg, Pa. He was formerly with Willis Jackson. The particular clarity with which he articulates his lines is refreshing," Ira detailed.

Although previous domestic CD issues by Sony Music included bonus material and were remixed from the 8-track tapes with controversial results, this SHM-CD reissue preserves the original mix by Rudy Van Gelder (who took care himself of the remastering) and includes only the three tracks available on the original LP release: Turrentine's "Sugar," Butch Cornell's "Sunshine Alley" and a 14-minute long version of John Coltrane's "Impressions," often used as the opening theme of the CTI All Stars concerts in 1971.

At the time of the first CD reissue of "Sugar" in the USA market, back in 1987, reissue producer (and former CTI publicist) Didier Deutsch added a previously unreleased studio version of Hubbard's "Gibraltar", recorded in that same session. However, the many unreleased alternate takes of Butch Cornell's "Sunshine Alley" remained lost in the vaults, and were never included in any of the several subsequent CD reissues that came out in the USA, Europe and Japan. (For instance, in the 2002 CD reissue, also produced by Didier for Sony, he replaced "Gibraltar" for a live version of "Sugar" recorded during a CTI All-Stars concert at the Southgate Palace in July 1971.)

The cover art (by album designer Elton Robinson) features a controversial shot by photographer genius Pete Turner. "Back in the 1960s I had done a series for Look magazine called 'Black Is Beautiful.' The image on the cover of Sugar is an outtake from that shoot, of a mother licking a baby’s foot. Some people think it’s a sexual thing, but it’s not" Turner told to Marc Myers' excellent "JazzWax" blog last year.
(btw, that pic is included on Pete Turner's latest book, the superb "The Color of Jazz")

"If ever there were a record that both fit perfectly and stood outside the CTI Records' stable sound, it is 'Sugar' by Stanley Turrentine. Butch Cornell's 'Sunshine Alley' is a solid, funky groover, paced by organ and double fours by Kaye. Turrentine and Hubbard stride into the melody and keep the vamp in the pocket, riding out past the blues line into a tag that just revs the thing up even further," jazz connoisseur Thom Jurek wrote in his review for the All Music Guide.

It's interesting to mention that, around the same time of the "Sugar" session for CTI, Butch Cornell also recorded "Sunshine Alley" when doing a sideman date (on November 23, 1970) for Boogaloo Joe Jones' "No Way!" album for Prestige.

"Sugar" was both a critical and commercial sucess, peaking the Billboard charts as #3 Jazz Album, #29 Black and #182 Pop Album! And, needless to say, the original 1970 version of the title track became a CTI anthem, being included in dozens of compilations released all over the world. For additional details, please visit the definitive CTI website created by Douglas Payne:

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