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Fly: Sky & Country (2009)

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Fly: Sky & Country How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

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

Mark Turner
Mark Turner
b.1965
sax, tenor
, bassist FLY
FLY
FLY

band/orchestra
, and drummer Jeff Ballard
Jeff Ballard
Jeff Ballard
b.1963
drums
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

John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
, he might be mistaken for Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
b.1952
saxophone
, playing with economy of notes and timing. He has been heard as a leader, as well as a preferred sideman for the likes of Kurt Rosenwinkel
Kurt Rosenwinkel
Kurt Rosenwinkel
b.1970
guitar
, Billy Hart
Billy Hart
Billy Hart
b.1940
drums
and Paul Motian
Paul Motian
Paul Motian
1931 - 2011
drums
. Lately, he's been heard together with Grenadier, who is also quite in demand, in Enrico Rava
Enrico Rava
Enrico Rava
b.1943
trumpet
's band.

Grenadier is heard regularly with Brad Mehldau

Brad Mehldau
Brad Mehldau
b.1970
piano
, Joshua Redman
Joshua Redman
Joshua Redman
b.1969
saxophone
, and Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
b.1938
saxophone
, while Ballard is connected to the bassist through Redman and Mehldau.

The music on Sky & Country is fully formed, with no loose ends left dangling. The gentle "Anandananda" opens with Turner's solo tenor; two-minutes later the trio is walking a sweet-tempered melody that gives way to the guiding hand of Grenadier as Ballard colors the affair with an understanding touch. This is jazz without the swagger. Firm, confident, and thoughtful, the band sounds as if they really enjoy their partnership.

"Lady B" recalls John Klemmer

John Klemmer
John Klemmer
b.1946
saxophone
's early work with its moody tension. The title track displays the equality of this band, supplying color all around, as does "CJ," with its dreamy sound, Turner supplying a breathy tone over Grenadier's luscious, ECM-sounding bass. The closing "Super Sister" finds Ballard pushing the drumming into a mild hip-hop beat.

While the music is amped up, the trio stays very cool, indeed.


Track Listing: Lady B; Sky & Country; Elena Berenjena; CJ; Dharma Days; Ananda Nanda; Perla Morena; Transfigured; Super Sister.

Personnel: Mark Turner: tenor and soprano saxophones; Larry Grenadier: double-bass; Jeff Ballard: drums.

Record Label: ECM Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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