REVIEW/ PHOTOS: Fly (Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier, Jeff Ballard) at Unterfahrt in Munich

Mark Turner at Unterfahrt
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Fly (Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier, Jeff Ballard)
(Unterfahrt Munich, June 18th 2016. Review and photos by Ralf Dombrowski)

Mark Turner is sometimes compared to John Coltrane. Musically that doesn't really stack up, because the styles and personalities of the two tenor saxophonists are too far apart. What is similar, however, is Turner's clear and unwavering dedication to his music. There is no hint of vanity about him. When he stands on stage, fully concentrating, he gives the impression of being genuinely surprised by what the instrument that he is controlling can achieve. He has the genial seriousness of a scientific researcher as he tracks down contrapuntal strands and abstract ideas, he devotes himself to developing lines of development which span from distant blues and hard bop through to the dismantling of traditional harmony in classical music. He is unperturbed, he has a high degree of control over what he does, but at the same time he is indefatigably curious. Not for him the special effects, the growling or honking that some other saxophonists indulge themselves in, with Turner it is all about fine adjustments and variations in his sound. For that kind of exploration it was good to have the members of his trio Fly with him at Unterfahrt: musicians who share his tendancy to be purists, but equally enthusiastic for the same basics and principles.

Fly: L-R Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier, Jeff Ballard at Unterfahrt
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Bassist Larry Grenadier's playing has gone way beyond the role of providing an accompanying line. His breadth of variation, which has been increasing for many years makes him the ideal musical interlocutor for an intellectal musician such as Turner.

Drummer Jeff Ballard draws rhythms from post-jazz and beyond, having internalized all the language and the shapes of modern improvisation. He supports and contributes to Grenadier's musical vitality, spurs both his colleagues to stray beyond the familiar, which enables Fly to function as a jazz-playing nucleus in which the communication and interaction are intense. Fabulously energetic, but without having to resort to large gestures, Fly's subtle music with its over-riding sense of balance is truly engaging and fascinating.

This is our translation of Ralf Dombrowski's review for the respected Munich broadsheet Süddeutsche Zeitung

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