Sanctified Sound: Stanley Turrentine With Milt Jackson - "Cherry"

Stanley Turrentine With Milt Jackson • Cherry • 1972 • CTI Records
Recorded May 1972 at Rudy Van Gelder Studios

The Selections:

The Tracks:

A1. Speedball
A2. I Remember You
A3. The Revs
B1. Sister Sanctified
B2. Cherry
B3. Introspective

The Players:

Stanley Turrentine - Tenor Sax
Milt Jackson - Vibes
Bob James - Electric Piano, Piano
Cornell Dupree - Guitar
Ron Carter - Bass
Billy Cobham - Drums
Weldon Irvine - Arranger (B1 & B3)

The Record:

Stanley Turrentine and Milt Jackson (Photo Credits Unknown)

Cherry is one of those early CTI albums that offers the listener the best of both the past and the future of jazz music in the early 1970s. Stanley Turrentine's husky tenor is a perfect match for Milt Jackson's soulful vibes, and when Bob James' masterful work on the Fender Rhodes is thrown into the mix we get a heady blend of soul-jazz, hard bop and the burgeoning funk-jazz sound all wrapped into one cohesive and very enjoyable record. With all the talent on hand, we could have gotten a battle for the spotlight, but instead the players mesh together perfectly as a group and shine as individual soloists.

The group's take on the bluesy "Speedball"  - a Lee Morgan original - is excellent and personifies this melding of styles and talent. Turrentine, Jackson and Billy Cobham all get in some fine solo time, and the whole group manages to take a classic hard bop track and give it a soul-jazz edge, while retaining the vitality of the original.

On the other end of the spectrum we get "Sister Sanctified," a straight up funky soul-jazz masterpiece, with Cobham and James laying down the funkiest of melody lines, while Turrentine and Jackson have a blast doing their thing over the top. It also features a killer solo by the guitarist Cornell Dupree, who shows why he was a valued sideman to both jazz cats and R&B stalwarts. The tune is a Weldon Irvine composition, and while the original version on his Liberated Brother LP is a whirlwind of jazz-funk, he stops by on Cherry to act as the arranger and perfectly fuses the original's funkiness with the soulfulness this group could provide. "Sister Sanctified" has been sampled countless times, but old school hip-hop fans will immediately recognize the melody line from Boogie Down Productions classic 1988 track "My Philosophy" (which is still one of the most righteous hip-hop tunes ever recorded, by the way). 

The Vinyl:

The Details:  This one is your standard early-to-mid seventies CTI pressing, no real way to tell if this is indeed a first pressing, only that it's for sure pre-1979, because for some reason at that point they re-issued the album with a new cover and removed Milt Jackson as a co-headliner. Interestingly, the album was again re-issued in 1982 with a third cover version, this one restoring Jackson's name to his rightful place alongside Turrentine's.

The Price: A clear no-brainer of a purchase at $8 which seems to be the general range of these under-appreciated early CTI sessions.

The Sound: Excellent analog sound, even with the lighter weight of the vinyl, and there is lots of depth with the highs, lows and mids all shining through.

Final Thoughts:

All of Turrentine's CTI records are personal favorites of mine, and while Cherry doesn't break any significant ground in terms of the music, the addition of Jackson's talent and leadership adds that certain something to the recording, moving the needle a bit more towards the hard bop end of the spectrum. The LP keeps the listener's interest throughout, and since you can almost always find these CTI albums for a great price, it'd be silly to pass up on adding such a fine LP to your collection if you ever get the chance. [Jackson was also doing some fine work for CTI during this time - Sunflower is a favorite of mine - so don't pass on any of his LPs if you happen to come across those either.]

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