Saxophonist Mark Turner’s love for science fiction, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder and Wayne Shorter comes through on Lathe Of Heaven by The Mark Turner Quartet. It’s his ECM debut as a leader and he’s going after a mysterious, patient sound where there’s no chordal instruments. No guitar. No piano. This gives the album a unique presence “defined by negative space,” as he likes to say. There’s an “attractive spaciousness.” This, of course, puts more responsibility on the players both harmonically and rhythmically. Dude digs mystery. He patiently builds up his melodies with Israeli trumpeter Avishai Cohen, New York bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore, the grandson of drum legend Roy Haynes. CD’s title is from the 1971 sci-fi novel by Ursula K. Le Guin of the same name. “Sonnet For Stevie” is a meandering 13-minute tribute where sax and trumpet play in unison propelled by the bass/drums rhythm section. “The Edenist” has to be my fave with its foreboding bass like a heartbeat. It too comes from a sci-fi collection of stories by Peter F. Hamilton. You might call Turner, 49, born in Ohio, raised in California and now a New Yorker, a rugged individualist who surrounds himself with genius.
At the height of Charles Lloyd’s popularity in the 1960s, when he was sharing bills with Hendrix and Joplin, he gave it all up and headed out to Big Sur in California where he played his sax and his flute in the mountains with only sky, earth and trees as his audience. Arrows Into Infinity, a documentary feature film by Dorothy Darr and Jeffery Morse, chronicles his journey of self-awareness. The concert footage is priceless. Lloyd himself, now 76, tells his own story, with help from his famous fans, among them Herbie Hancock, Robbie Robertson of The Band, Ornette Coleman and John Densmore of The Doors. Lloyd replaced Eric Dolphy in Chico Hamilton’s band. His own quartet with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette brought him fame beyond his wildest dreams. His Forest Flower is a seminal recording and not only sold over a million copies but became a radio staple in the infancy of FM. He came off his mountain in the 1980s but stayed low-key, preferring to accompany poets on sax. ECM’s Manfred Eicher finally persuaded him to record again in 1989 and the result was Fish Out Of Water, another classic. Charles Lloyd has always been his own man. Success, with all its implications, just didn’t agree with him. Great film…with lots of music.
Are Mats and Linda Brandemark the Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks of Sweden? It sure sounds that way on their self-titled debut as Lighthouse (Moody Maraccas). This satisfying folk-rock entry deserves listens due to its classy production, arrangements, melodies, instrumental prowess, soothing vocals and subtle harmonic flavorings. They take turns singing lead and the effect is solidly entertaining.
The 2,000 jazz fans packed into the sold-out Cologne Philharmonic in Germany knew they were witnessing something special. The 28-year-old German pianist Pablo Held had pulled off a dream…and his new CD documents it. The Trio Meets John Scofield (Pirouet) was such a success as a concert that the 63-year-old American guitar master is planning to take Held—plus bassist Robert Landfermann (32) and drummer Jonas Burgwinkel (33)—on tour with him. For now, though, we have this stunning reminder that oftentimes, when generations collide, great art is made. These five tracks totaling 63:33 (two apiece by the leader and his most special guest)—plus a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Marcie”—show the trio to be totally inspired by the presence of the great guitarist. Solos abound with alacrity. The level of interplay is positively mind-bending. Forget the usual solo turns, as one musician is a scant eyelash away from finishing a delicate phrase or rampaging jam, the next almost finishes his thought in a constantly evolving revolving door of continuous circuitous creation.