This album of sophisticated 1980s jazz-funk from one of the master practitioners of the genre features Stanley Turrentine accompanied by a small group on a selection of mostly uptempo pieces, including the disco-influenced “Paradise” and the ballad “I Knew It Couldn’t Happen,” the latter with vocals by the well-known singer and actress Irene Cara.
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).
Stanley Turrentine & the Three Sounds were initially featured together on an album called Blue Hour, which was a very relaxed and bluesy release. The spaciousness of "I Want a Little Girl" makes the listener savor every note, while "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You" is played with an almost identical tempo and feeling. Gene Harris' "Blue Riff" picks up the pace a good bit, before "Since I Fell for You" and "Willow Weep for Me" once again slow the proceedings back to a late-night feeling. Turrentine's tenor sax is in top form, while Harris is the consummate blues pianist in his supporting role.
With Mosaic Records expanding its horizons over the past few years, fans of many different styles have had the opportunity to expand their collections and recent Mosaic honorees have included Mildred Bailey, Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Chico Hamilton, and Anita O’Day. But to those long time followers, it continues to be the hard bop verities of the Blue Note label that have often been synonymous with Mosaic’s mail order dynasty. ~ AllAboutJazz
Other than a few short spots, Stanley Turrentine is the only significant soloist on this CD reissue which features a diverse program including "When the Sun Comes Out," "Maybe September," "You're Gonna Hear from Me" and a previously unreleased rendition of Max Roach's jazz waltz "Lonesome Lover." Although he is accompanied by an all-star group that includes trumpeter Blue Mitchell, altoist James Spaulding, baritonist Pepper Adams and pianist McCoy Tyner, Turrentine's sidemen could almost have been anonymous studio players for the tenor is the dominant voice throughout.
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.