The two tenor battle is not a new idea, with predecessors ranging from Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray to Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Johnny Griffin. However, what we have here is not so much a competition but a complimentary pairing that makes the most of the individualistic styles of Mark Turner (a distinguished disciple of Lester Young and Warne Marsh) and Tad Shull (straight out of the Webster/Hawkins school of deep-throated tenors). It’s the contrast that makes for provocative listening, Shull positively robust and burly, with Turner proving to be lighter-toned and more reasoned.
Throughout this generous set, Turner and Shull get sensitive backing from the trio of Kevin Hayes, Larry Grenadier, and Billy Drummond. Even with the preponderance of ballad material, things never bog down or become effete. The variety of material also helps in this matter, with “What’s My Name” sporting a gentle rumba beat and the waltz tempo of Bill Evans’ “Very Early” given a light bounce.
Recorded in 1994 and just now seeing release, Two Tenor Ballads gives us a sumptuous early look at Turner, who has since become a leading man of great promise. Unfortunately, this “lost session” is the most recent work to feature Shull, a neglected maverick who is rarely heard from these days.
Track Listing: A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing, Autumn In New York, Blue In Green, What's My Name, I Forgot To Remember, Alone Together, Very Early, Turn Out the Stars, You've Changed (67:47)
Personnel: Mark Turner & Tad Shull- tenor saxophone, Kevin Hays- piano, Larry Grenadier- bass, Billy Drummond- drums
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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