Critic's Choice/ music | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Critic's Choice/ music 


Listening to tenor saxophone perennial Stanley Turrentine, you can discover the secret of his success by focusing on the falsetto yelps that punctuate his bright, hard tone or on his smooth-as-suede, disarmingly facile improvisations. These stylistic trademarks represent Turrentine's ability to fuse the rigors of 1950s hard bop--the idiom on which he cut his teeth--with the sweet yearnings of 60s soul and its various pop heirs. This union of two seemingly disparate branches of black music helped distinguish his blues-drenched Blue Note dates of the 60s, and made sense of later projects that incorporated strings and eventually dance rhythms. (Well, it was the 70s.) Turrentine has never stopped pleasing his fans, but he has rarely stooped to mere populism: most of the time, his music maintains its hard-bop roots so clearly--and with such equanimity--that even hard-core jazzers can find plenty to appreciate. (In this sense, though his playing is lighter toned and more urbane, Turrentine can trace his lineage back to the great Chicago tenor man Gene Ammons.) Recent appearances have proved that Turrentine still plays at the top of his game, talking tough on blues and bop tunes, addressing ballads with a sexy, urgent caress, and paring down the excesses of like-minded saxophonists to create elegantly concise improvisations. He brings to town a simpatico accompanist in pianist Kenny Drew Jr. Drew has an impressive pedigree--his father, the great hard-bop pianist, composer, and tonal colorist, worked with such giants as Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon--and he brings to his music a maturity and depth missing in the work of most other second-generation jazz players. His playing ranges from the nakedly exploratory to the unexpectedly pastoral, and provides another reason entirely to catch Turrentine's sets. Tuesday through next Sunday, November 3, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Ching Ming.

Get our free weekly Early Warnings newsletter 💌

It’s Chicago’s essential months-ahead music calendar straight to your inbox.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Popular Stories