Mark Turner is one of the most admired saxophonists of his generation, renowned for his exploratory intellect and intimate expressivity on the full range of the tenor. This is his ECM leader debut, following albums for the label in the cooperative trio Fly with Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard, and appearances on key recordings by Billy Hart, Enrico Rava and Stefano Bollani. Turner leads a quartet of kindred spirits here, often entwining in serpentine fashion with rising-star trumpeter Avishai Cohen. They play long, introspective lines of hypnotic grace; and with the lithe rhythm section of bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore, there is subtle volatility in the air.
For his fourth outing as a leader, Mark Turner puts together a set of ballad standards. His usual quintet is mostly still in place, with Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Brian Blade on drums, but Kevin Hays replacing Brad Mehldau on piano. The group picks some well-known popular songs, such as the Gershwins' "I Loves You Porgy," Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark," and "All or Nothing at All," an early hit for Frank Sinatra and a tune once essayed by John Coltrane. "Some Other Time," the Leonard Bernstein song from On the Town, turns out to be a particularly felicitous choice for jazz improvisation.
If your Latin jazz collection centers mainly around styles from Cuba and Brazil, pianist Edward Simon would like you to consider expanding your library to include musical influences from a culturally diverse land geographically situated between those two countries – namely Venezuela, where he was born and lived until the age of 12. Simon is an acclaimed post-bop and modern creative jazz pianist in his adopted country of the United States, and while Latin American elements have certainly seasoned his recorded output to date, this 2014 Sunnyside release finds him focusing more intently than ever on the nexus between creative jazz and the folk music of his home country. The album's title is derived from "Venezuelan Suite," whose four parts fill over 28 minutes of the disc's concise 38-minute duration. Simon composed the suite for his Ensemble Venezuela, and the ten-member version of the group heard here – including musicians from the U.S., Venezuela, and Colombia – is wonderfully vibrant, ably fulfilling the pianist's creative intent. Chamber Music America commissioned Simon to write this work, and he rose to the challenge with music that is suitably rich with timbral and textural variety.
Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel takes The Next Step in his creative evolution on eight songs that exude several degrees of great jazz. He succeeds in topping the musical tastes presented on his debut release for the Verve label, The Enemies of Energy. Rosenwinkel is one of many young jazz musicians forging ahead into the new millennium with bold musical steps, and the compositions, all of which he wrote, represent the culmination of many life phases for him. First formed as a guitar-bass-drums trio in 1992, Rosenwinkel's band is now a quartet including Mark Turner on tenor saxophone, Ben Street on bass, and Jeff Ballard on drums, all excellent artists in their own right. All four musicians can be heard on The Enemies of Energy, and The Next Step is additional documentation of their relationship as a band.