Don’t Mess With Mr. T
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Stanley Turrentine plays his composition “Don’t Mess With Mr. T” on the PBS show “Say Brother” in 1989.
Stanley William Turrentine was born in Pittsburgh’s Hill District on April 5, 1934. His father, Thomas Turrentine, Sr., was a saxophonist with Al Cooper’s Savoy Sultans, his mother played stride piano, and his older brother Tommy Turrentine also became a professional trumpet player.
He began his prolific career with blues and rhythm and blues bands, and was at first greatly influenced by Illinois Jacquet. In the 1950s, he went on to play with the groups of Lowell Fulson, Earl Bostic, and at the turn of the decade, Max Roach.
Turrentine received his only formal musical training during his military stint in the mid-’50s. In 1959, he jumped from the frying pan into the fire when he left the military and went straight into the band of the great drummer Max Roach.
He married the organist Shirley Scott in 1960 and the two frequently played and recorded together. In the 1960s, he started working with organist Jimmy Smith and made many soul jazz recordings both with Smith and as a leader.
In the 1970s, after his professional split and divorce from Scott, Turrentine turned to jazz fusion and signed for Creed Taylor’s CTI label. His first album for CTI, Sugar proved one of his biggest successes and a seminal recording for the label. He worked with Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson, George Benson, Bob James, Richard Tee, Idris Muhammad, Ron Carter, Grant Green and Eric Gale, to name a few. He returned to soul jazz in the 1980s and into the 1990s. He lived in Fort Washington, Maryland from the early 90s until his death.
Stanley Turrentine died of a stroke in New York City on September 12, 2000 and is buried in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Cemetery.