"The tenor saxophonist Mark Turner is possibly jazz's premier player."
- Ben Ratliff, the New York Times
Mark Turner Quartet Lathe of Heaven CD release show
Featuring: Mark Turner: tenor saxophone
Avishai Cohen: trumpet
Joe Martin: double-bass
Justin Brown: drums
Mark Turner is one of the most admired saxophonists of his generation, renowned for his intimate expressivity on the full range of the tenor. Lathe of Heaven is his ECM leader debut, following albums for the label in the cooperative trio Fly with Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard, and appearances on ECM recordings by Billy Hart, Enrico Rava and Stefano Bollani. Turner leads a quartet of kindred spirits here, often entwining long serpentine lines with rising-star trumpeter Avishai Cohen, underpinned by the lithe and powerful rhythm section of bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore.
Lathe of Heaven, produced by Manfred Eicher at New York's Avatar Studio in June 2013, has a long-breathed essence characteristic of Turnerís work, with melody taking primacy. There is mystery to the album, a quality of patient storytelling to the compositions. The music also echoes with allusions to literature and relationships key to Turnerís personality as a musician. The albumís title references Ursula K. Le Guin's 1971 science fiction novel of the same name. There are also gestural allusions to Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter, as well as Stevie Wonder. One of the album's highlights is "Year of the Rabbit," a rangy counterpart to the title track of Fly's 2012 ECM release, Year of the Snake. And the closer on Lathe of Heaven, the melodically haunting "Brother Sister," is a new, more expansive version of a piece first heard on that Fly album.
As in Fly, the Mark Turner Quartet doesnít feature a chordal instrument. The absence of piano or guitar opens the music up, giving it an attractive spaciousness, but as Turner points out, this also makes its demands: "It allows for a certain freedom, but puts more responsibility on each player, too. With a band like this, you have to place restrictions on yourself Ė harmonically, rhythmically and in terms of your sound Ė to make strong points musically."
Mark Turner was born in Fairborn, Ohio, in 1965, and moved with his family to California at age 4, growing up outside Los Angeles. He started playing clarinet at 9 and later switched to alto, then to tenor as a teenager. Ultimately, he found his own style after exhaustive studies of the musical methodologies of John Coltrane and Warne Marsh, among others. Since moving to New York City, Turner has worked with such musicians as Paul Motian, James Moody, Lee Konitz, Tomasz Stanko, Dave Holland, Billy Hart, Brad Mehldau, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Dave Douglas, John Patitucci and the SF Jazz Collective.
Turner has appeared on dozens of recordings, including Enrico Ravaís New York Days and Billy Hartís All Our Reasons and One Is the Other on ECM. With the Fly trio the saxophonist has released three albums, including two for ECM: Sky & Country and Year of the Snake. Lathe of Heaven is his first leader date since 2001.