ECM Records has just released Sky & Country , the debut album from the jazz trio known as Fly, which is made up of saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. Although Sky & Country marks their first recordings under the Fly moniker, all three have worked together in some form or another, especially Grenadier and Ballard who first played together in the early 80's.
Sky & Country which is made up of nine original compositions, is a true team effort as each musician was involved in the songwriting process. Although at first glance it might appear that Turner is the one in the spotlight, the songs tell a somewhat different story, as his playing generally aims to create more of a balanced feel amongst the other two instruments . Often trio settings such as this end up being a showcase for the saxophonist to really step out and show off his or her chops, so Turner's approach is somewhat refreshing in that regard. This isn't meant to imply that he doesn't get his opportunities to turn in some dazzling runs, but looking for example at one of his compositions, such as the multifaceted ten minute track "Super Sister", this track is driven by his sax melody, yet the ever shifting tempos laid down by Grenadier and Ballard in the background will have you concentrating more on their fiery dynamic than anything else. Speaking of the duo, they also lay down some pretty deep and infectious grooves on "Elena Berenjena", "Dharma Days" and the title track as well.
What's most apparent more than anything else on Sky & Country, in addition of course to some truly splendid all round performances from each individual musician, is just how seamlessly one piece flows into the next. Their rapport as a collective also stands out in that it never feels like one player is fighting to be heard or looking for more time in the spotlight. They each leave enough space behind within the music, and as a result the whole album feels like a lesson in self-control. If you prefer your jazz to lean slightly more towards the subtle, refined side of things, then Sky & Country should definitely be in your collection.
1) Lady B
2) Sky & Country
3) Elena Berenjena
5) Dharma Days
7) Perla Morena
9) Super Sister