If ever there were a record that both fit perfectly and stood outside the CTI Records' stable sound, it is Sugar by Stanley Turrentine. Recorded in 1970, only three tracks appear on the original album (on the reissue there's a bonus live version of the title track, which nearly outshines the original and is 50 percent longer). Turrentine, a veteran of the soul-jazz scene since the '50s, was accompanied by a who's who of groove players, including guitarist George Benson, Lonnie Liston Smith on electric piano, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, bassist Ron Carter, organist Butch Cornell, and drummer Billy Kaye, among others.
This is a typically excellent recording from the husband-wife team of tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine and organist Shirley Scott. With assistance from guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Otis Finch, Turrentine (who always had the skill of playing melodies fairly straight but with his own brand of soul) and Scott dig into "Love Letters," Lloyd Price's "Trouble," "Something Happens to Me," a couple of basic originals, and "Goin' Home." The Turrentine-Scott team never made an unworthy disc; all are easily recommended, including this one.
A legend of the tenor saxophone, Stanley Turrentine was renowned for his distinctively thick, rippling tone, an earthy grounding in the blues, and his ability to work a groove with soul and imagination. Turrentine recorded in a wide variety of settings, but was best-known for his Blue Note soul-jazz jams of the '60s, and also underwent a popular fusion makeover in the early '70s. Born in Pittsburgh on April 5, 1934, Turrentine began his career playing with various blues and R&B bands, with a strong influence from Illinois Jacquet. He played in Lowell Fulson's band with Ray Charles from 1950-1951, and in 1953, he replaced John Coltrane in Earl Bostic's early R&B/jazz band.
After the release of Coldwater Flat five months earlier, Three Sounds pianist Gene Harris and bassist Andy Simpkins found themselves faced with yet another personnel change: Donald Bailey, who'd been with group for only two albums, left the group (after replacing founding drummer Bill Dowdy) and was replaced by Carl Burnett. The jazz-pop direction that Harris and Simpkins pursued on the fine Coldwater Flat set – where the trio fronted the Oliver Nelson band and a string section – was followed up here with composer and saxophonist Monk Higgins as arranger, conductor, and co-producer (with Dee Ervin).