218

Fly: Sky & Country

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Fly: Sky & Country 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; Anandananda; Perla Morena; Transfigured; Super Sister.

Personnel: Mark Turner: tenor and soprano saxophones; Larry Grenadier: double-bass; Jeff Ballard: drums.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Southern Lights" CD/LP/Track Review Southern Lights
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 26, 2016
Read "Sizzle" CD/LP/Track Review Sizzle
by Geannine Reid
Published: October 10, 2016
Read "Hasta Karma" CD/LP/Track Review Hasta Karma
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 29, 2016
Read "O Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review O Horizonte
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald" CD/LP/Track Review The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 21, 2016
Read "3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011" CD/LP/Track Review 3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 27, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!