Mark Turner: Dharma Days

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Jazz has its share of famous duos; names that just seem to go together. For example, let’s consider Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Johnny Griffin, Elvin Jones and John Coltrane, and the list goes on and on. Now we can add to this unofficial inventory the names of tenor saxophonist Mark Turner and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. These two go way back, from Mark’s first record as a leader ( Yam Yam on Criss Cross) to Kurt’s recent releases for Verve. Dharma Days is the latest chapter in the ongoing musical adventures of Turner and Rosenwinkel and sanctified testimony to the power of individualism.

Turner’s art has always been about taking the road less traveled. While many of his peers still keep John Coltrane as a major influence, Turner has always confessed to be more of a Warne Marsh-styled player and his fluid voice owes more to the careful distribution of space and manipulation of textural nuances than to fast bebop licks run up and down the horn. As a writer (all of the tunes are Turner’s own), his works explore shadowy and more convoluted territory than is the norm. The long phrases of “Myron’s World” spill over bar lines, the sensation of floating in air then giving way to more rhythmic horizons. “We Three” resides in a similar zone of suspended animation.

The more upbeat numbers (“Jacky’s Place,” Iverson’s Odyssey,” and the title track) still evolve slowly, as if each melody was a flower blossoming. In parallel fashion, check out the percolating funk beat underneath “Zurich,” with the melody moving at half the speed and in sustained tones. Regardless of tempo, Rosenwinkel provides the perfect foil to Turner’s musings. The guitarist has an equally brooding line of attack that is responsive to Turner’s varied moods, with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Nasheet Waits equally vital to the overall ensemble approach. Forward looking and idiosyncratic, Dharma Days is Turner’s most fully realized work to date and while it may be a bit ominous in spots, it overall rates a solid A minus.

Track Listing: Iverson's Odyssey, Deserted Floor, Myron's World, We Three, Jacky's Place, Casa Oscura, Zurich, Dharma Days, Seven Points

Personnel: Mark Turner (tenor saxophone), Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar), Reid Anderson (bass), Nasheet Waits (drums)

Record Label: Warner Bros.

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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