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Benson, Hubbard, Turrentine On June Slate From CTI Masterworks

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Earlier this year, Universal and Hip-o Select released a bold orange box set containing the first 6 LPs on the Impulse! label, all of which were produced by Creed Taylor.  The ambitious producer didn’t stay long at Impulse!, however, departing for the greener pastures of Verve, then A&M, where he founded his CTI label.  Following a highly successful series of CTI albums under the A&M imprimatur, Taylor’s mini-kingdom went the independent route and along the way practically defined the sound of seventies jazz.  Sony’s Masterworks Jazz label quietly dropped four more CTI titles in stores on June 14, part of the 40th Anniversary Series that began with the release of the Cool Revolution retrospective box.  (We’ve got details on April’s batch here.)  The titles were released between 1970 and 1974, and all four feature bona fide legends who were integral parts of the CTI family: George Benson (guitar), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet/flugelhorn), Hubert Laws (flute) and Stanley Turrentine (tenor saxophone).

The earliest title in the group, Hubbard’s Straight Life (1970), was his second album for CTI following Red Clay, already released in this series.  Straight Life could be considered a “sequel” to Red Clay, as many of the same personnel returned, including saxophonist Joe Henderson, keyboard player Herbie Hancock and CTI stalwart Ron Carter.  George Benson, naturally on guitar, joined in as well.  On percussion, Richard “Pablo” (Richie) Landrum contributed, while Jack DeJohnette replaced Red Clay’s Lenny White on drums.  Straight Life consists of three lengthy tracks: the 17 minute jam on the title song by Hubbard, “Mr. Clean” by Weldon Irvine (who plays tambourine on the album) and the Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen standard “Here’s That Rainy Day.”  With only Hubbard, Benson and Carter playing, “Rainy Day” is as beautiful as “Straight Life” is funky.

Benson’s own album, Body Talk, is also released in this wave.  His third for the independent CTI, it’s all-instrumental.  Rather than “house arranger” Don Sebesky, it’s Pee Wee Ellis who arranged and conducted Body Talk, a duty he also performed on CTI albums for Esther Phillips, Johnny Hammond and Hank Crawford.  The only cover in this set of blazing originals is “When Love Has Grown” from Donny Hathaway and Gene McDaniels’ pen.  Ron Carter, of course, played bass, as did Gary Kng, and Earl Klugh joined to contribute second guitar.  As on previous reissues, this remastered Body Talk contains one bonus, an alternate take of the title track.

Hit the jump to meet Mister T. and go back to the Beginning. We’ve also got track listings, order links and discographical info for all four titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 27, 2011 at 14:02