Home » Jazz Articles » Fly in La Jolla

169
Live Review

Fly in La Jolla

By

Sign in to view read count
Fly
Athenaeum Jazz at the Neurosciences Institute
La Jolla, California
April 18, 2009

It 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 FLY and drummer Jeff Ballard. Turner has recorded his CDs under his own name—Dharma Days, (WEA, 2001), and is something of a super sideman, sitting in on dozens of guest spots on a myriad of of recordings over the past decade. Ballard and Grenadier are best known for work in the Brad Mehldau Trio. But the Fly collective seems a special project for all three artists, as they toured to support their second CD, Sky and Country (ECM Records, 2009).

The trio opened the set with Ballard-penned "Lady B," with Turner displaying a beautiful tone in his tenor saxophone's upper register, while Ballard shifted rhythms from loose and free flowing to metronome-ish, machine-like precision, and Grenadier loped and rolled. "Stark" showcased the much written-about equality of input of the group—an especially rare aspect for a sax/bass/drum trio. Usually the sax plays the roll of the lead voice to his accompanists that get their chances to step out. The tunes featured duet sections and solos involving all, with Grenadier prowling with his elastic lines around Ballard's joyous percussion, Turner observing before he comes in comping with spare single notes placed perfectly.

It's all about the sound with Fly. Each instrumentalist searches and explores, melding, creating collectively something that sounds as if it exists in nature. Mark Turner's tenor sax is smooth, like Stan Getz's; but it's as if Getz had put aside the mainstream and Bossa Nova and gone out looking to find Nirvana with a couple of like-minded seekers.

There is a visual appeal to Fly. Turner is the priest, an aesthete, a man who appears immersed in the musically divine. Bassist Grenadier is the sensualist, ardently embracing and caressing his instrument, coaxing harmonious melodies and rhythms from it's feminine curves. And Ballard is the secular hedonist, full of a gregarious and orchestral joy of percussive creation.

On the tune "C.J," the group explored the atmospheric and amorphous ballad territory, evoking—more in concert than on the disc—a sense of deep meditation tinted, perhaps by a feeling of impending doom. The Turner-penned "Super Sister" was full of a gentle relentlessness, with Ballard switching from thoughtful grooves to studied exuberance.

Fly played a stellar show, mesmerizing an audience that seemed (from an unofficial, localized polling) unfamiliar with its work.

FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter Since 1995, shortly after the dawn of the internet, All About Jazz has been a champion of jazz, supporting it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to rigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment

Tags

More

Popular

Read Ramsey Lewis: Life is Good
Read Horace Silver: His Only Mistake Was To Smile
Read Meet Abe Goldstien
Out and About: The Super Fans
Meet Abe Goldstien
Read Herbie Hancock: An Essential Top Ten Albums
Read Matthew Shipp: A Dozen Essential Albums
Read Bill Charlap's Stardust

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.