Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Review: Stanley Turrentine - Have You Ever Seen The Rain

‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’ is perhaps the absolute epitomy of a great jazz musician attempting commercial crossover; attempting and failing. Stanley Turrentine, who’d recorded a number of perfect artistic and commercially successful albums with the CTI label, for some unknown reason chose to leave his home of his greatest successes to join Fantasy. Immediately, with his label debut ‘Pieces Of Dreams’, the results were not pretty. His third album for Fantasy, as with that earlier record and indeed most of his mid-to-late seventies work, prominently features a full-size string section, and it’s this overwhelming presence that really scuppers the music here.

Saccharine then is the key word, with everything drowned in unpleasant gloopy-sounding strings, and with none of the material here anything but ballads. ‘Tommy’s Tune’, by Turrentines trmpet player brother Tommy is a little more of an up-tempo style ballad and, thankfully missing the strings, is unarguably the best piece, with most of the rest generally being covers of other then-current hits. The title track is of course from Creedence Clearwater Revival, with ‘You’ coming from Marlena Shaw, and Earth, Wind & Fire supplying ‘Reasons’ and ‘That’s The Way Of The World’.

Phenomenally kitsch and soft, it absolutely reeks of the label aiming for a cash-in. Maybe Turrentine really did love and just want to play ballads and only ballads, but where someone in control had aimed for romance, they instead hit cloying and over-sentimental. Most surprising of all though is just who is squandered on this travesty. Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette, masterful players both, are here stripped of any personality – most likely in case they interfere with the strings – and Freddie Hubbard plays beautifully too, but somehow uninterestingly. Everyone else too gets to sound mostly like a jobbing sessioner, except the main man himself who very nearly acquits himself with his soulful playing.

Most likely to have a track or two end up on a compilation titled something along the lines of ‘Music For Lovers’ or ‘Candlelit Ballads For You And Your Lover’, it’s a career low for the saxophone man and deserves a seriously wide berth indeed.


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