b. James Daniel Turner, 8 March 1920, Farrell, Pennsylvania, USA, d. 14 April 1995. Raised in upstate New York, he studied music, then began playing alto saxophone while living in Philadelphia in the late 40s; he associated with many distinguished jazzmen including John Coltrane and Philly Joe Jones. He occasionally led his own small groups and also worked with other leaders including Johnny Lynch and the Four Kings And A Queen vocal group. In 1950 he was a member of the Gerald Wilson big band that accompanied Billie Holiday on a disastrous tour of southern states. He was a member of the Milt Buckner small group for four years in the 50s and also played and recorded with Dakota Staton, Jimmy McGriff, Ray Charles and others throughout the 60s, sometimes playing alto, sometimes tenor saxophone. He spent some time with Machito and then, in the early 70s, became an on-call substitute with Count Basie. From the mid-70s he was permanently with Basie, usually playing alto and eventually becoming section leader. A fluid, elegant soloist, Turner’s style always charmed and often sparked with boppish fire. After Basie died, Turner continued to play in alumni bands and was a member of the continuing Count Basie Orchestra until shortly before his death.
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