All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

218

Fly: Sky & Country

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
The near-unanimous acclaim that has greeted Fly's sophomore effort (and ECM debut) tends to see the trio as a second coming of the legendary Bill Evans Trio that recorded the classic Waltz for Debby and Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside, 1961). That's the way people are talking about the record, anyway.

The record doesn't sound like the Evans trio, nor is there any good reason why it should sound like a record almost fifty years old. The similarity has more to do with the unusually high level of empathy and collective purpose among the players.

The distinctive feature of Sky & Country, in addition to this salutary democratic spirit, is cerebral compositions crawling around a lattice of vaguely rock-inspired rhythm. The musical logic underlying the pieces here is uncompromisingly angular and emotionally reserved (the oblique scales of "Dharma Days," for example). There aren't many familiar melodic markers, even if "Transfigured" briefly appears to quote "Milestones"—which was on the Evans trio's set list. Moreover, the combination of abstract material with the trio's premeditated forthrightness sometimes makes it difficult to know when the statement of the composed material ends and the improvisation begins.

In this stark trio setting, many of these numbers resemble architectural drawings more than baroque cathedrals. That's fine, but it begs the question: what harmonies would master jazz orchestrators like Maria Schneider or Guillermo Klein uncover in these compositions?

Jeff Ballard's drumming, meanwhile, is taut, crisp, occasionally funky, and reproduced here with the crystalline precision expected from ECM releases. "Elena Berenjena"—a title that sounds considerably more exotic than "Helen Eggplant," its English equivalent—develops over a rock and roll beat. It's ingenious, it's endlessly varied, but it's a rock and roll beat. The beat behind "Super Sister," meanwhile, brushes right up against funk, without crossing that line.

In fact, a considerable amount of this record's appeal stems precisely from this juxtaposition of melodies that challenge the mind and rhythms that pluck the rock-tinged strings of the collective memory. It's probably a little more complicated than that, but that's the idea.

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.

Title: Sky & Country | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Live Reviews
In Pictures
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Sky & Country

Sky & Country

ECM Records
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Cosmic Language CD/LP/Track Review
Cosmic Language
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read More Songs About Error And Shame CD/LP/Track Review
More Songs About Error And Shame
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley CD/LP/Track Review
Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Earth CD/LP/Track Review
Earth
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Vegir CD/LP/Track Review
Vegir
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 19, 2018
Read "Mission Cimbalom" CD/LP/Track Review Mission Cimbalom
by Geannine Reid
Published: September 7, 2017
Read "Killing Bugs" CD/LP/Track Review Killing Bugs
by Kevin Press
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read "Provenance" CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Ultimate Hits" CD/LP/Track Review Ultimate Hits
by Doug Collette
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "There Is No Love" CD/LP/Track Review There Is No Love
by Phil Barnes
Published: July 18, 2017