Sky & Country

Fly - Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier, Jeff Ballard

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ECM debut for Fly, leaderless collective comprised of three influential American jazz musicians. The group was called into existence by drummer Jeff Ballard in the mid-1990s, but draws on a longer history of shared projects. All three players write music for the group. Mark Turner: “Sometimes it’s the saxophone carrying the melody. Other times it’s the bass or drums. We spread out the frontline duties among us.” “Sky & Country” is issued on the eve of a tour that takes in dates on both East and West coasts of the US as well concerts in France, Austria and Belgium.

Featured Artists Recorded

February 2008, Avatar Studios, New York

Original Release Date

03.04.2009

  • 1Lady B
    (Jeff Ballard)
    07:24
  • 2Sky & Country
    (Jeff Ballard)
    06:40
  • 3Elena Berenjena
    (Mark Turner)
    05:15
  • 4CJ
    (Larry Grenadier)
    07:29
  • 5Dharma Days
    (Mark Turner)
    05:05
  • 6Anandananda
    (Mark Turner)
    10:34
  • 7Perla Morena
    (Jeff Ballard)
    05:45
  • 8Transfigured
    (Larry Grenadier)
    08:38
  • 9Super Sister
    (Mark Turner)
    10:50
Rondo, Jazz-CD des Monats
Jazzman, Choc du mois
 
Fly conquers the challenge presented to all trios in its ability to think as one, telepathically adjusting as each member prods or pulls back, making space for a gorgeous tenor comment or a perfectly chosen rim shot then undulating into another collective form and shape. Fly’s ability to probe each member’s mind is its greatest asset. The results often prove revelatory.
Ken Micallef, Downbeat
 
The nine tracks on Sky & Country are rhythmically limber and structurally involved, reflecting the selfless, collaborative spirit that is the band’s raison d’être. … Turner, among the most distinctive and influential saxophonists to emerge in years, can surge like a wave or whisper like a flute. His rapidly coiling lines span the full reach of the horn, leaping widely across intervals and dissecting chord changes with striking originality.
David R. Adler, Time Out New York
 
The key to the album’s success is that this is not just a saxophone with bass and drums accompaniment, but the thought that has gone into exchanging roles, the relationship between bass and melody instrument, the way the drums move to centre stage in a way that is integral to the realisation of a composition – in short, this is an album full of fascinating and absorbing musical events that have the capacity to move and exhilarate.
Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwise
 
On the new CD you can hear what’s made Turner such a sensation among musicians. … In Fly, with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, Turner is at his best. In his complex, multi-part pieces the distinction between written melody and spontaneous outpouring is blurred; Turner’s saxophone lines always sound invented on the spot, but informed with a sure compositional logic.
Jon Garelick, The Boston Phoenix
 
Fly ist ein Trio wie aus dem Musterbuch, drei Könner vor dem Herrn, die seit bald zehn Jahren immer wieder auf den gemeinsamen Grund zurückkommen: der Saxofonist Mark Turner mit seinem warmen, manchmal fast schon durchscheinenden Ton, Jeff Ballard, der die Becken und Felle seines Schlagzeugs zum Singen bringt, und der Kontrabassist Larry Grenadier als Rhapsode, der im tiefen Keller seine eigenen Melodien erfindet. Auf Sky & Country haben sie ihre Kunst der Ökonomie perfektioniert. Nur die unerlässlichen Töne zählen, das Beiwerk lassen sie fahren.
Stephan Hentz, Die Zeit
 
Mit der zweiten CD seiner Formation Fly legt Turner ein souveränes, reifes Album dreier gleichberechtigter Partner vor, das durch Aufmerksamkeit und Intensität überzeugt. Es geht nicht um einen Star und devote Begleiter, sondern ums oft beschworene Interplay. Und dieses gelingt aufs Schönste.
Manfred Papst, Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag
 
Diese Platte ist ein exzellentes Beispiel dafür, dass sich Freiheit und Disziplin, Energie und Entspannung, Nähe und Distanz, Übereinstimmung und Widerspruch, fließende Eleganz und Brüche ganz wunderbar verbinden lassen – so, wie am Horizont Sky & Country verschmelzen. Ein Meisterwerk.
Werner Stiefele, Rondo
 
Wer wollte schon ohne Kapitän fliegen? … Ein neues amerikanisches Jazz-Trio, Fly mit Namen, zeigt, dass es sogar ganz wunderbar sein kann, ohne Führer abzuheben. Diese drei … zeigen auf ihrem Debüt-Album Sky & Country sogar auf eindringliche Weise, dass eine klassische Besetzung wie etwas völlig neues klingen kann: deutlich weniger angestrengt, deutlich weniger schweißtreibend als die möglichen Vorbilder für ein Ensemble ohne Harmonieinstrument. …
Vielfältig sind die Stücke, trotzdem erscheinen sie wie aus einem Guss. Jazz, Rock, Klassik und Neue Musik sind hier zu einer klar strukturierten Einheit verschmolzen, die auf ganz eigene Art „swingt“. Trotz rhythmischer Vielschichtigkeit und dichter Harmonik wirkt die Musik dabei frei, und immer wieder ist der Hörer verblüfft, wenn sich in tiefer Entspanntheit Momente von großer Dramatik aufbauen.
Norbert Dömling, Süddeutsche Zeitung
“Sky & Country” is the ECM debut of the highly-regarded collective trio that drummer Jeff Ballard has memorably described as “an intimate band with teeth”. It’s a group that overturns expectations of its specific instrumentation. Modern jazz history is not short on highly charged sax/bass/drums trios, including those of Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler and Sam Rivers, but Fly is differently cast. Equal rights for all instruments is one goal. The saxophone seeks parity with bass and drums, and its refusal to fill all the space with sound brings another set of tensions into play. As writer Nate Chinen observed in a JazzTimes article, “This is music that expands and contracts, effortlessly and dramatically and that balances the cerebral components of group improvisation with the more gut-level element of groove.” Or as Brad Meldau, who works regularly with Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard in his own trio has said: “Fly brings together elements in their playing that are often at odds with each other: On the one hand their music can be intellectually challenging - their compositions in particular can be rhythmically and harmonically dense. In spite of that, their music makes a strong emotional impact, felt through the deep rhythmic groove, and the organic way that these three musicians tell a story together.”

The group first surfaced as the Jeff Ballard Trio in 2000 on one track of the anthology “Originations”, curated by Chick Corea (Ballard was Chick’s drummer at the time) and became Fly with the release of their first album, on Savoy, in 2004. Association between the players however goes back much further. Grenadier and Ballard played music together as teenagers in California in the early 1980s and subsequently gigged together often. They both migrated to the US’s East coast in 1990 where they met Turner, and the three musicians have played in diverse permutations and contexts since then.

In Fly, Turner, Grenadier and Ballard all write material. Mark Turner: “Sometimes it’s the saxophone carrying the melody. Other times it’s the bass or drums. We spread out the frontline duties among us.” “Sky & Country” features three Ballard tunes, four by Turner, and two by Grenadier.
YEAR DATE VENUE LOCATION
2024 April 16 Fasching Stockholm, Sweden