Stanley Turrentine | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Stanley Turrentine




The recent deaths of Art Farmer and Milt Jackson underscore the fact that the bebop generation, arguably the greatest in the history of jazz, is fading fast. But these passings have also focused attention on the postbop musicians, like 65-year-old tenor man Stanley Turrentine, who learned directly from the giants. Make no mistake: Turrentine's a gold-standard original, with his sweet, slightly puckered tone, phrasing as natural as casual conversation, and falsetto soul shouts that combine the utter cool of Lester Young and the sexy steam of James Brown. From the 60s through the 80s, he had one ear turned to the pop and soul of the day, creating one of the most popular and still vital solo styles in jazz. But that instinct for pop wouldn't have done him much good without the firm grounding he got in the 50s, first in prebop legend Earl Bostic's band (where he replaced John Coltrane) and then in Max Roach's group (where he replaced Sonny Rollins). From Bostic, Turrentine learned a lot about soulful communication; from Roach, about adapting the innovations of bop to newer idioms. While many of Turrentine's postbop contemporaries preoccupied themselves with funky "soul jazz," he ventured further into popular music--his covers of pop, rock, and even dance tunes, often layered with plummy string arrangements, made his name synonymous with the "light jazz" of 25 years ago. But from the early 60s, when his thoroughbred improvisations found a home in the Blue Note stable, through his present-day return to straight-ahead postpop, he has played with remarkable consistency in all kinds of settings--remarkable in that his own contribution has stayed pretty much the same, yet he's never sounded bored or boring. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 and 10 PM, next Friday and Saturday, November 12 and 13, 9 and 11 PM, and next Sunday, November 14, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473. NEIL TESSER

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