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Fly: Sky & Country

Mark Corroto By

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Oh, the modesty of the members of the trio known as Fly. They might just as well have called themselves Super Fly—their initial release for ECM Records is indeed special.

Saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist FLY, and drummer Jeff Ballard all contribute compositions to Sky & Country, which follows their debut, FLY (Savoy, 2004), and is sure to garner attention for its democracy and equilibrium in approach and sound.

Turner seemingly never plays a harsh note. Like a gentle John Coltrane, he might be mistaken for Joe Lovano, playing with economy of notes and timing. He has been heard as a leader, as well as a preferred sideman for the likes of Kurt Rosenwinkel, Billy Hart and Paul Motian. Lately, he's been heard together with Grenadier, who is also quite in demand, in Enrico Rava's band.

Grenadier is heard regularly with Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, and Charles Lloyd, while Ballard is connected to the bassist through Redman and Mehldau.

The music on Sky & Country is fully formed, with no loose ends left dangling. The gentle "Anandananda" opens with Turner's solo tenor; two-minutes later the trio is walking a sweet-tempered melody that gives way to the guiding hand of Grenadier as Ballard colors the affair with an understanding touch. This is jazz without the swagger. Firm, confident, and thoughtful, the band sounds as if they really enjoy their partnership.

"Lady B" recalls John Klemmer's early work with its moody tension. The title track displays the equality of this band, supplying color all around, as does "CJ," with its dreamy sound, Turner supplying a breathy tone over Grenadier's luscious, ECM-sounding bass. The closing "Super Sister" finds Ballard pushing the drumming into a mild hip-hop beat.

While the music is amped up, the trio stays very cool, indeed.


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


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