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Stanley Turrentine expresses his sweet yet muscular sound in 'Don't Mess with Mister T'

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Stanley Turrentine's 'Don't Mess with Mister T' rose to #2 on the 1975 Billboard jazz chart and was another artistic triumph for the sax legend in his year with CTI Records. What first leaps out and grabs the listener's attention is Turrentine's sweet yet muscular sound, which suggests Johnny Hodges more than the classic Swing tenors. Turrentine's flexible voice can deepen to a resonant honk, soar into one of the most piercingly full-throated cries in jazz, and broaden to a thick, sensuous vibrato on ballads. He tends to play on top of the beat, making for a deep, trancelike groove, and his phrasing draws on both modern jazz and R&B. Angular lines alternate with timeless blues phraseology.

It's a strange sensation to find that a slew of classic CTI albums have been remastered and reissued ahead of getting an American re-release. So the initial question has to be "is it worth the extra money to buy this import?" The answer has to be a resounding YES!, as the album was worth its price in its original form, but the three previously unreleased tracks make it an essential purchase. Firstly, it's aged very well, partly because unlike some 70's albums which feature electric piano, in the hands of Bob James (Tracks 1,3,4,6,8) and Harold Mabern (Tracks 2,3,5) the playing is well handled, and where it meshes with Richard Tee's organ the sound is superb. Eric Gale provides nice guitar fills as he sits well back with Ron Carter and drummers Idris Muhammed and Billy Cobham. Turrentine provides a sinewy Tenor Sax across the whole range of material. Favorites are both versions of Marvin Gaye's title track "Two for T" written by Turrentine, and Bob James' "Harlem Dawn." Although this is arguably more commercial that "Sugar," it has a fantastic sound, a brilliant slow burn of smooth relaxing listening.