Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Jazz Review : Slow Takeoff for Sax Man Turrentine

October 08, 1994|DON HECKMAN

It was pretty much business as usual for Stanley Turrentine at the Ambassador Auditorium Thursday night. That's not necessarily all bad. The veteran tenor saxophonist is a mainstream stylist whose music is energized by crowd-pleasing, blues-based improvisations. When he is good, he can be a very exciting performer.

But nearly half the program had passed before Turrentine finally unveiled the platform-stalking, upfront, declamatory musical preaching that is his signature stock in trade. Typically, he did so most effectively when he was playing the blues, especially during an exhilarating, if too-short, rendering of his foot-tapping hit "Sugar." He also generated some lovely, harmonically fascinating moments in several ballad improvisations.

Unfortunately, by the time Turrentine got his playing fully up to speed, the concert was nearly over. Somewhat unstructured from the beginning, it simply came to a sudden halt, without encore and without a promised second vocal feature from drummer Grady Tate.

Given the amount of additional talent on the stage--Sir Roland Hanna on piano, James Newton on flute and Ron Carter on bass--the proceedings might have gone better. Hanna produced a lush reading of "Prelude to a Kiss," and Tate sang "It Might as Well Be Spring" with a seasoned mellowness that recalled the best of Billy Eckstine. But the gifted Carter had little more to do than stand in the background, emerging occasionally for brief solos. And Newton's riffing, vocalized flute choruses--appropriate, perhaps, in response to Turrentine--nonetheless failed to display his far-ranging skills.

Above all, this excellent collection of players, despite their familiarity with one another, never quite came together as a group. The well-oiled, interlocking ensemble grooving that typified Turrentine's brightest work of the '60s and '70s was present only in memory.

So, call it another day at the office. Workmanlike, for sure. But it could have been a real musical holiday.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|