When I was a young man, my father would describe a particular jazz recording as being “sexy.” To a testosterone-enriched lad, Stan Getz’s music wasn’t exactly what I would call sexy. As one ages, what one finds sensual becomes more cerebral. Tenor saxophonist Mark Turner’s offering of ten ballads is that grown-up kind of sexy. This is his fourth release as a leader, two previous Warner Bros. and one on Criss Cross Jazz; all are worth going back and listening to. What is evident in Turner’s music, is maturity beyond his 35 years on this planet. His sound is introspective, not showy. By releasing an album of all ballads, it is as if he was trying to deflect the attention away from himself and onto the melody. And by sharing the spotlight with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, who plays as if a second horn, Turner notches a true sophistication. Obvious references can be found to John Coltrane’s Ballads album, including a shared rendition of “All Or Nothing At All.” Turner has definitely been influenced by Coltrane, but also by Joe Lovano and Joe Henderson. The former Berklee College of Music student studied with saxophonists Billy Pierce and George Garzone. He went on to work with Ryan Kisor, Seamus Blake, Leon Parker and is featured on Rosenwinkel’s new Verve release Enemies Of Energy.
The recording maintains its nobility of manner throughout, selecting the famous as well as the obscure in ballads. Gershwin’s “I Loves You Porgy” and Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti” are heard next to Paul Bley’s “Jesus Marie” and Bobby Hutcherson’s “Visions.” But then again, these are consistent with Turner’s approach, favoring the cerebral romanticism over a showy tumble in the hay. Listening to “Some Other Time” brings to mind the Tony Bennett/Bill Evans version from 1975. Mark Turner, like Tony Bennett hits upon pensiveness born of love lost and a hope of return-an adult kind sexiness.
Track List:I Loves You Porgy; Some Other Time; Nefertiti; Skylark; No More; All Or Nothing At All; Visions; Alone And I; Late Lament; Jesus Maria.
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