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This collection is beautiful, but it offers a fairly limited view of Mark Turner’s staggering talents. Of course, hearing him, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, and pianist Kevin Hays play ballads is a great pleasure. Sensitive support from bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Brian Blade only makes it better. But the all-ballad format seems a little constrained, especially compared to the spellbinding original music Turner has been playing live lately.
The repertoire for Ballad Session is quite well chosen, however. Instead of expected favorites like "Body and Soul" we have pieces by people like Carla Bley, Paul Desmond, and Bobby Hutcherson. Turner’s intention is not simply to soothe, nor to pay blind obeisance to great tenors of the past. Bringing his youthful wisdom to the ballad form as only he can, Turner calls into question our preconceived notions of what a ballad can be — as is best exemplified by "Nefertiti" and "All or Nothing at All."
Tracks: 1. I Loves You Porgy 2. Some Other Time 3. Nefertiti 4. Skylark 5. No More 6. All or Nothing at All 7. Visions 8. Alone and I 9. Late Lament 10. Jesus Maria.
Mark Turner, tenor saxophone; Kurt Rosenwinkel, guitar (except 1, 4, 10, 11); Kevin Hays, piano (except 3-6, 9); Larry Grenadier, bass; Brian Blade, drums.