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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Reconnaissance Fly: Flower Futures

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Vocalist, flautist Polly Moller concocted the premise for this album based on collections of Internet-based spam poetry, or as the press release states, “spoetry." It's quite kooky, yet thoroughly engaging. Slight comparisons to small ensemble Frank Zappa, largely from a lyrical standpoint, come to fruition as the band performs with a theatrical flair, and an ideology that could be framed on a soundtrack for a guileful Off-Broadway production. They merge a consortium of unruffled, breezy jazz passages amid brusque unison breakouts and thorny time signatures with the musicians' penchant for mimicking the human element. This enterprising group is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Butterfly Effect Ensemble: Chimera

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Butterfly Effect Ensemble is a trio of three veteran Israeli musicians--woodwinds player Stephen Horenstein, known for his decade long association with innovative trumpeter Bill Dixon, a dedicated educator and passionate collaborator with cross-genres artists as dancers; percussionist Jeffrey Kowalsky, the principal percussionist in Israel symphony and philharmonic orchestras, who plays on myriad of ethnic percussive instruments (Indian, Arabic, Caribbean and African) and a close collaborator of Horenstein in many of his projects, and pianist Lior Navok, a contemporary composer and soloist of many chamber outfits and symphony orchestras all over the world. The trio began working ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Robin McKelle & The Flytones: Soul Flower

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First, Robin McKelle & The Flytones Soul Flower is not neo-soul. Neo-soul is what Amy Winehouse was and Cee Lo Green is (at least on his “Forget You"). Neo-soul is a cheeky attempt to cash in on a classic style while, at the same time, not taking it seriously. Second, Soul Flower might be better termed retro-soul, except that McKelle avoids the pitfall of clinging too tightly to the old style that has plagued other artists trying to put a new spin on the soul canon. A mixture of originals with some clever covers make up Soul Flower. McKelle is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fly: Year of the Snake

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While there are numerous jazz trios, few leave a lasting impression. This is not the case for Fly, consisting of younger but fully established jazz artists-- saxophonist extraordinaire Mark Turner and his equally talented cohorts, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. At just over ten minutes, the episodic “Kingston," from the trio's sophomore ECM release, Year of the Snake , encapsulates rousing composition and exhilarating improvisation. What begins tentatively, with inquisitive probing--elongated unison lines and gentle militaristic drums taps--evolves into a powerfully funky groove with an elastic tenor solo moving like a cobra as the bass ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Fly: Year of the Snake

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Fly Year of the Snake ECM Records 2012 When a group of musicians works together more often in extracurricular configurations with other leaders, what do they do when they come together for their own project? In the case of saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard--who, individually and collectively, have worked with everyone from pianist Brad Mehldau and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel to trumpeter Enrico Rava--it's Fly, the trio that released its self-titled debut on Savoy Jazz in 2004, making the jump to ECM in 2009 with Sky & Country. With a shorter ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Flying Burrito Brothers: Authorized Bootleg: Fillmore East, Late Show, Nov 7,1970

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Gram Parsons began The Flying Burrito Brothers with Chris Hillman when the two men left The Byrds in 1968, but the group continued on admirably without Parsons, under Hillman's stewardship, in the role of bassist, singer and songwriter. Authorized Bootleg: Fillmore East compares favorably with the latter-day Burritos' live Last of the Red Hot Burritos (A&M, 1972), if only because the bulk of the material consists of originals Parsons wrote himself, like the streamlined chug of “Lazy Days," or collaborations including the harmony-laden “Cody Cody." Never a reliably polished performing unit in its early days, The Burritos, circa ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fly: Sky & Country

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The near-unanimous acclaim that has greeted Fly's sophomore effort (and ECM debut) tends to see the trio as a second coming of the legendary Bill Evans Trio that recorded the classic Waltz for Debby and Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside, 1961). That's the way people are talking about the record, anyway.The record doesn't sound like the Evans trio, nor is there any good reason why it should sound like a record almost fifty years old. The similarity has more to do with the unusually high level of empathy and collective purpose among the players.The distinctive ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fly: Sky & Country

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Mark Turner, Jeff Ballard and Larry Grenadier first played together in 2000 as the Jeff Ballard Trio. Since then they have performed in different groups. The long association has helped establish immediacy between them, a reading of the minds that translates into absorbing music.

All three have contributed compositions to Sky & Country, the second release by their collaborative group Fly. The music has impeccable character in its ability to evolve and break open into some majestic improvisation. Turner gives each phrase a distinctive air, whether it is in the sinuous curl of the soprano sax or the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fly: Sky & Country

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15 years ago Mark Turner was among a trio of young tenors who were poised to have a lasting impact on jazz. However, having not had Joshua Redman's pedigree or James Carter's flair for self-promotion, Turner's major-label output came and went without generating the attention a musician of his caliber deserved. Today he is a member of Fly, a cooperative trio representing the best a sax-bass-drums lineup--featuring Brad Mehldau's rhythm section--has to offer. Bassist Larry Grenadier has two writing credits on Sky & Country, while drummer Jeff Ballard has three. The urban hard bop of Ballard's “Lady ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Fly in La Jolla

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FlyAthenaeum Jazz at the Neurosciences InstituteLa Jolla, CaliforniaApril 18, 2009It appeared an inauspicious venue for a jazz concert--a mile from Interstate Five in La Jolla, California, not in the village's quaint and stylish old sea-side downtown, but rather snugged in a tract of blocky and nondescript industrial type buildings housing a variety of bio-tech/research firms. But there at the Neurosciences Institute one finds a marvelous auditorium where, on April 18, 2009, Fly displayed their egalitarian chamber jazz.The group is saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. Turner has recorded his ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Trio of One: Fly at the Jazz Standard

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FlyJazz StandardNew York, NYApril 10, 2009 Instruments are versatile husks, possessing limited range and a particular timbre, but no set personality of their own. The piano can channel the thoughts of musicians as different from one another as Cecil Taylor and Bill Evans; the saxophone can express the passions of Stan Getz just as easily as it can those of Albert Ayler. Yet despite the diversity, instruments get broadly typecast: the trumpet with Miles' feline cool (even if it has another life in its blaring Gillespie-Sandoval incarnation); the saxophone with brash searchers like Hawk, Bird, ...

INTERVIEWS

Fly: Complete Collaboration

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The Fly trio has just released its second CD--and its first for ECM--Sky & Country (2009). Bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Jeff Ballard and saxophonist Mark Turner redefine the saxophone trio by making it an entirely democratic group, with compositional contributions from all three of its members.

The trio approaches performance with an equally egalitarian philosophy that largely eschews conventional instrumental roles as well. Melody is just as likely to be heard coming from Ballard as it is Turner or Grenadier, while forward rhythmic motion can be as much the result of Turner's horn as it is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fly: Sky & Country

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The trio Fly has been described as “two thirds of the Brad Mehldau Trio and a saxophonist." Not to diminish reed man Mark Turner--who is the other third of group--but as an acknowledgment of his band mates' higher profiles. And if the higher profiles of the other two thirds--bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard--pulls in a higher percentage of attention for Fly, all the better.

Sky and Country is the group's second offering, and it's debut on ECM Records. The Germany-based label has a reputation for showcasing European artists with restrained, refined and somewhat abstract approaches, like ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fly: Sky & Country

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Oh, the modesty of the members of the trio known as Fly. They might just as well have called themselves Super Fly--their initial release for ECM Records is indeed special.

Saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Larry Grenadier, and drummer Jeff Ballard all contribute compositions to Sky & Country, which follows their debut, FLY (Savoy, 2004), and is sure to garner attention for its democracy and equilibrium in approach and sound.

Turner seemingly never plays a harsh note. Like a gentle John Coltrane, he might be mistaken for Joe Lovano, playing with economy of notes and timing. He ...



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