One has to wonder why it took over five years for this 1994 recording to make its debut. Certainly the quality is up to Criss Cross standards and the spirit of the session is unquestionably robust. Still, now that Brad Mehldau, Mark Turner, and Peter Bernstein (the first letters of their last names gives us M.T.B.) have become more established artists, this peek at an earlier effort is sure to initiate some lively discussion. In the cases of Turner and Bernstein their performances seem pretty much true to form. However, Mehldau sounds so strong with this expanded line-up that one longs to hear him shed “the trio thing” he seems so hell bent on driving into the ground these days.
Consenting Adults seems like an apt title for this date as its material and performance values suggest a maturity level beyond the norm. Take the opening “Belief,” which starts out with some Charleston off beats before leading into a Messengers-type shuffle. It’s a tricky line that doesn’t even seem to raise an eyelash. The same goes for a blistering take of “From This Moment On,” its tempo nailed down with quartz-like precision by Leon Parker. Among many attractive arrangements, Wayne Shorter’s “Limbo” is so reworked as to the point of almost being an entirely new piece.
Can too much be spoken and written about Mark Turner? He plays with such warmth and authority and that comes through most noticeably here on a hushed piano and tenor reading of Horace Silvers’ “Peace.” Drummer Leon Parker, like Turner, is also very much his own man. In fact, this would be a much different record had someone else been in the drum chair; not necessarily a better record, just a different one. Parker’s very dry cymbal beat and minimalist drum kit contributes to his idiosyncratic approach.
Sometimes “better late than never” really fits the bill and in the case of Consenting Adults we might add that “good things come to those who wait.”
Side A: Belief; Little Melonae I. Side B: Phantasm; Afterglow. Side C: Limbo; Consenting Adults. Side D: From This Moment on; Peace; Little Melonae II.