the loud bassoon concert scene

Stanley Turrentine @ Jazz Showcase, Chicago, USA
28 May 1998

God bless Jazz Showcase for continuing to bring some real jazz to Chicago. It was a rare privilege to witness great tenor saxman Stanley Turrentine and his quartet come to town and teach the people what it's all about. I caught the first set of the Thursday night show (T was in for a week long gig) and was relieved to see that the man has not lost a bit of that big, round tone even after like 40 years in the spotlight.

To me, Stanley Turrentine is one of the seriously underrated horn guys, perhaps because he never really made a "masterpiece" album, but seeing him on the stage I was reminded that it's about time for a reassessment. He's one of the few genuine greats still working a reed.

The band kicked off with "My Shining Hour," beginning a bit awkwardly but letting out a bit of fire after a few minutes. It was a hesitant beginning that was all but forgotten by the blistering take on Stanley's "Easy Walker" that followed. Each member of the quartet laid down a fierce solo, especially Stan and the pianist. (I didn't catch the names of the pianist, bassist, or drummer, but they all played with great humor and good chops.)

Then came a beautiful rendition of "In a Sentimental Mood," a burning version of Coltrane's "Impressions," and what may have been the gem of the set, a tune called "The Lamp is Low" introduced by Turrentine as "an old movie song." Graceful, mysterious, and intense.

The set closed with a Jimmy Smith tune I couldn't remember the title of (though it was undoubtedly one of Stanley's signature pieces), with the pianist laying down some fat organ lines on a synthesizer (not as cheesy as you'd think).

The performance was slow to get off the ground, but really hit its stride during "Impressions," when Stanley began letting out a "yeah!" here and there to let everyone know he approved of the proceedings. The man was a marvel on stage, too, writhing with a surprising sexiness for a 65 year old. Age ain't nothin' but a number, as Granma says, unwrapping this month's Playgirl.

Snaking around stage during his solos, this was the same Stanley Turrentine whose robust tenor sound lit up numerous Blue Note records in the 60s and scorched its way through the smoother grooves of CTI in the 70s. Hadn't lost a thing; not sure why I thought he might have.

The much younger remainder of the quartet played up to Stanley's level, though not really pushing the envelope at all. The keyboard cat had amazing chops and all the right notes but lacked a real emotional investment-still, even the man himself was clearly impressed, smiling and laughing at the crazy brilliance going on over there on them ivories.

The bassist didn't get too many solos but made the most of them, coming off like an apprentice that was just beginning to really start stepping out on his own. The drummer was hilarious throughout, keeping metronomic time and throwing in humorous fills just like I would if I could keep metronomic time and throw in humorous fills.

Seeing a legend can often be disappointing; in this case I was appointed, and then some. I would have stayed for the second set but I was getting drowsy from the powerful tranquilizers I take recreationally, so I didn't get to see whether he'd do "Don't Mess With Mr.T."

I did, however, get the opportunity to overhear the band talking about golf shortly after the first set when I went up to use the restroom. Thinking about Stanley Turrentine in golf pants pleases me greatly.

Review by Adrienne Doublestack