Temporary Kings

Mark Turner, Ethan Iverson

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With Temporary Kings two of the most distinct voices on today’s jazz scene present their debut on record as a duo: Engaging in inspired dialogue Mark Turner and Ethan Iverson here explore aesthetic common ground in the atmosphere of a modernist chamber music-like setting at the Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano. The saxophonist and the pianist had begun their association in the Billy Hart Quartet, where the two players featured sympathetically on two ECM albums by that band. The new duo album now contains six originals by Iverson (among them the nostalgic solo tune “Yesterday’s Bouquet”) and two by Turner (including “Myron’s World,” which has acquired near-classic status among contemporary jazz players). There’s an off-kilter blues (“Unclaimed Freight”) and a strikingly melodic, almost Ravelian opening track dedicated to the town where the album was recorded under ideal sonic conditions (“Lugano”), plus an interpretation of Warne Marsh’s playfully serpentine “Dixie’s Dilemma.”
Mit Temporary Kings offerieren zwei der profiliertesten Musiker der gegenwärtigen Jazzszene ihre Debütaufnahme als Duo: In inspirierten Dialogen loten Mark Turner und Ethan Iverson hier in der kammermusik-artigen Atmosphäre des Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in  Lugano ästhetische Gemeinsamkeiten aus.
Die Verbindung des Saxophonisten und des Pianist hatte ihre Anfänge einst im Billy Hart Quartet. Die beiden Musiker waren in schöner Eintracht auf zwei ECM-Alben dieser Band zu hören. Das neue Duo-Album enthält nun sechs Kompositionen von Iverson (darunter das nostalgische Solostück „Yesterday’s Bouquet“) und zwei von Turner („Myron’s World“, das unter  heutigen Jazzmusikern beinahe schon Klassikerstatus hat). Es gibt einen eigenwilligen Blues („Unclaimed Freight“) und ein verblüffend melodiöses, fast an Ravel erinnerndes Eröffnungsstück, das der Stadt gewidmet ist, in der das Album unter idealen klanglichen Bedingungen aufgenommen wurde („Lugano“), sowie eine Fassung von Warne Marschs verspieltem „Dixie’s Dilemma“.
Featured Artists Recorded

June 2017, Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano

Original Release Date

2018-09-07

  • 1Lugano
    (Ethan Iverson)
    05:00
  • 2Temporary Kings
    (Ethan Iverson)
    05:44
  • 3Turner's Chamber of Unlikely Delights
    (Ethan Iverson)
    05:54
  • 4Dixie's Dilemma
    (Warne Marsh)
    06:00
  • 5Yesterday's Bouquet
    (Ethan Iverson)
    04:44
  • 6Unclaimed Freight
    (Ethan Iverson)
    06:49
  • 7Myron's World
    (Mark Turner)
    07:15
  • 8Third Familiar
    (Ethan Iverson)
    04:24
  • 9Seven Points
    (Mark Turner)
    07:54
‘Temporary Kings,’ the debut album from saxophonist Mark Turner and pianist Ethan Iverson, finds these two quiet killers immersed in a deep, fragile, highly focused form of play. They sound like they’re building a house of cards in the void. […] There’s plenty of eloquence, esotericism, ownership and searching to be heard throughout ‘Temporary Kings’ — especially during Iverson’s ‘Unclaimed Freight,’ an atypical blues inspired by Stravinsky’s ‘Symphony of Psalms’.
Chris Richards, Washington Post
 
The music is austere and elegant and belongs to the growing field of chamber jazz. The sounds draw you with their reserve; the spaces between the notes often have as much impact as the notes themselves. […] The Cool School influence is apparent in the restraint and gentle abstractions, but there’s a litheness to the players’ interactions. Each musician responds to the other and tugs the music in striking directions.
Martin Johnson, Wall Street Journal
 
Da entfalten sich delikat gesetzte Single-Notes zu wundersam duftigen Melodiebögen am raffiniert ausgespielten Flügel, während das meist in höheren Langen geblasene Tenorsax in lakonischer Eleganz, etwa bei Warne Marsh’s ‚Dixie’s Dilemma‘, auch Lee Konitz in Erinnerung ruft. Neben dem Klassiker von 1956 funkeln acht melodisch, harmonisch und rhythmisch ausgefeilte Originals, bei denen Iverson mit sechs Stücken die Nase vorn hat.
 Sven Thielmann, Fono Forum
 
Es ist ein mit allerhöchster Spielkultur produziertes Stück Kammermusik, das sich zwar in seiner Anlage in keiner Weise auf Jazz oder klassische Moderne festlegen will, in seiner Umsetzung und Klangästhetik aber deutlich in Richtung Jazz tendiert. Trotz europäischer Referenzen entstand aus dem Material eine zutiefst amerikanische Platte. […] Dabei spricht es für das entspannte Selbstverständnis von Turner und Iverson, dass sie trotz der getragenen Grundstimmung von Anfang bis Ende eine unaufdringliche Heiterkeit bewahren, die einen sanften Hauch von Broadway-Atmosphäre schafft.
Wolf Kampmann, Jazzthetik
 
There’s a lot of variety in those mere nine tracks, from contemporary jazz-influenced chamber music to swinging blues. It opens with one of the former, ‘Lugano,’ a melodic homage to the town where the set was recorded, and closes with Turner’s quasi-cinematic tone poem ‘Seven Points.’ Iverson’s delicate touch on the intro to ‘Lugano’ gives it an impressionistic air, and Turner’s sax when it comes in floats it into the clouds. Such a blue bit of mutual improvisation, and it sets the stage for the rest of the date. […] This blend of modernist chamber music and cool-toned jazz is a winner to my ear.
Gary Whitehouse, Green Man Review
 
Turner ist ein ganz ungewöhnlicher, eigenständiger Tenorist, und mit Iverson gelingt ihm, trotz einem vertrackten Blues und einem Marsh-Original im Angebot, ein feinsinniges, poetisches Rezital, das eher für eine neue improvisierte Kammermusik steht als für Jazz im engeren Sinn.
Peter Rüdi, Weltwoche
 
Anderswo auch gern Monk zugeneigt, orientiert Iverson sich hier passend mehr am gleichmäßigen Flow Lennie Tristanos – wir bekommen also eine oft eher coole Intensität, in der jedoch sehr freihändige und nachdenkliche Tracks  ebenso Platz finden wie Turners fein melodisches ‚Myron’s World‘ und ein verwinkelter, weit offener Blues Iversons. Ganz wunderbar, wie erfindungsreich sich die beiden ineinanderschlingen, zu scheinbar endlos linearem Fluss oder super-eleganten Unisono-Strecken!
Markus Schneider, Rolling Stone (German Edition)
 
Ethan Iverson, der erst letzten Dezember dem 2000 von ihm mitgegründeten populären Trio The Bad Plus den Rücken gekehrt hat, bringt in mehreren Solopassagen seinen unverwechselbaren Stil bestens zur Geltung, wirklich spannend sind aber die inspirierten Dialoge des kongenialen Duos. Sie lassen in jeglicher Hinsicht höchst komplexes Material ausgesprochen elegant und unangestrengt klingen, von einer jazzmäßigen Coolness im besten Sinne des Wortes durchdrungen. Der von Coltrane und Marsh gleichermaßen beeinflusste Turner setzt wie schon in früheren Projekten - etwa seinem Trio Fly oder seinem jüngsten Quartet mit dem Trompeter Avishai Cohen – auf mit perfekter Intonation gekoppelte wohltemperierte Expressivität. Selbst wenn etwa Iversons ‚Unclaimed Freight‘ als reichlich schräger Blues daherkommt, geht das Duo vom intendierten Musizierideal nicht ab. Das enorme kreative Potential und die durch die Zurückhaltung eher noch gesteigerte Ausdruckskraft der beiden hält auch ohne übertriebene dynamische Effekte oder exaltierte Einfälle mühelos die notwendige Spannung. Oder vielmehr gerade deshalb – jedenfalls verfügen die ‚Temporary Kings‘ im Gegensatz zu vielen marktschreierischen Produktionen über ein absolut zeitloses Potential.
Peter Füssl, Kultur
 
There are bands which contain opposites, individual members who bring strikingly contrasting characters to the table and then bounce off one another in boisterous argument. This duo of the Ohio-born saxophonist and the Wisconsin-born pianist does not feel like such a band. What unites Mark Turner and Ethan Iverson here is a shared measured pace, a sense of intellectual investigation and a penchant for the dry, the ironic and the oblique over the sweet, the enthusiastic and the straightforward. There are no arguments here. There is something much more enthralling: sober but intense discussion – of life’s great mysteries, perhaps? […] It doesn’t matter how many times I hear them, the rising opening five chords of Iverson’s solo Yesterday’s Bouquet and then the gentle turn down and around into its melodic hook have me on the verge of tears on every occasion. It feels like there is early 19th-century Romanticism here, and yet over its near five minutes Iverson takes the harmony for a walk right through the intervening near-two centuries of piano-playing (he may be thinking of Bill Evans at one point, of Monk at another). [..] Cool this music may be but – heavens! – have I warmed to it? Big time!
Peter Bacon, London Jazz News
 
Die kammermusikalische, selbstverständlich, ja fast lakonisch wirkende Zwiesprache dieser beiden großartigen Musiker fasziniert vom ersten bis zum letzten Ton. Schon das Eröffnungsstück, Iversons ‚Lugano‘ – dort wurde das Album aufgenommen – ist an poetischer Melancholie kaum zu übertreffen und offenbart die Grundierung des ganzen Albums, dessen Impetus freilich nicht Schwermut zelebriert, sondern eher so etwas wie einer heiteren Nachdenklichkeit entspringt. […] Ob in vertrackten Dialogen oder einem mehr angedeuteten als ausformulierten Blues wirkt dieses extraordinäre Duo  in sechs Iverson- und zwei Turner-Songs sowie in Warne Marshs ‚Dixie’s Dilemma‘ durchwegs unaufdringlich und schafft, ungekünstelt und ohne sonderlich virtuose Kapriolen, schlicht rundum große Kunst.     
Steff Rohrbach, Jazz’n’More
 
Duet records can be a challenge, especially if neither musician is part of the usual rhythm section. But acclaimed saxophonist Mark Turner and former Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson make it seem easy on Temporary Kings. […] Taking inspiration from Warne Marsh and maverick pianist Lennie Tristano, the twosome derives its sound from both the dynamics of small-group classical performances and the vertical improvisation style of Marsh and Tristano, relying on harmony as often as melody. […] The rhythm sectionless approach leaves no room for bombast or explosions, but the two musicians’ tasteful skills and distinctive touches on their instruments makes up for any dynamics perceived lost.
Michael Toland, The Big Takeover
 
The music is dominated by brooding ballads that are quietly dramatic with the two musicians often seeming to think as one. […] ‘Temporary Kings’, which grows in interest with each listen, is a subtle outing that features Mark Turner and Ethan Iverson at their ‘coolest.
Scott Yanow, Los Angeles Jazz Scene
 
On their debut as a duo, Turner and Iverson create a powerful and challenging recording of chamber jazz that emotionally resonates as it feeds the mind. […] ‘Temporary Kings’ stands as an engaging, challenging statement by artists who have played together long enough to quickly react to each other. A duo performance puts great demands on musicians, but Turner and Iverson respond with balanced intelligence, strong compositions, and terrific playing.
Joe Taylor, Vinyl Reviews
The initial musical connection between saxophonist Mark Turner and pianist Ethan Iverson was made in 1990s jam sessions in New York City. A decade after their first meeting, the saxophonist and pianist began an association in the Billy Hart Quartet, the two players featuring on two widely lauded ECM albums by that band. Now with Temporary Kings – their debut on record as a duo – Turner and Iverson explore aesthetic common ground that encompasses the cool-toned intricacies of the Lennie Tristano/Warne Marsh jazz school, as well as the heightened intimacy of modernist chamber music.
 
Temporary Kings presents six originals by Iverson (such as the nostalgic solo tune “Yesterday’s Bouquet”) and two by Turner (including “Myron’s World,” which has acquired near-classic status among a generation of jazz players). There’s an off-kilter blues (“Unclaimed Freight”) and a strikingly melodic, almost Ravelian opening track dedicated to the Swiss town where the album was recorded (“Lugano”), plus an interpretation of Marsh’s playfully serpentine “Dixie’s Dilemma.”  
 
Undergirding their common history onstage and in the studio, Iverson and Turner share aesthetic enthusiasms, ranging from literary science fiction to a certain free-minded classicism in music. The sessions for Temporary Kings at the RSI Svizzera studio with Manfred Eicher were characteristically marked by deep listening and an appreciation for what Iverson calls “magical confluences” and “happy surprises,” such as the dovetailing melodic phrases in the improvisations of “Lugano.” Iverson adds: “We were playing in a spacious, almost abstract way, not going for a hard-edged jazz sound at all. That said, there’s a blues on the album, my tune ‘Unclaimed Freight,’ and ‘Dixie’s Dilemma’ is a contrafact on ‘All the Things You Are.’ But that chamber-music vibe is there, too. The school of Tristano, Marsh and Lee Konitz has its connections to the world of modernist chamber music, and we think it’s important to underscore these connections.”
 
Turner – whose tune “Lennie’s Groove” on the Billy Hart Quartet’s One Is the Other album was a nod to the influence of Tristano – adds: “The Warne Marsh aesthetic is part of both our worlds, and we wanted to include a jazz classic on the album, to underscore our connection to that aesthetic. I like ‘Dixie’s Dilemma’ for its dry-toned, laconic quality, a sound he shared with Tristano and Konitz. The appeal of the tune like that is based more on its content than drama, so the content has to be very strong, melodically, harmonically and rhythmically.”
 
About their interaction as a duo, Iverson says: “Mark makes me listen harder, something I try to do all the time, but if you’re going mano-a-mano with Mark Turner, your ears have to be fine-tuned, very sharp. Mark is dedicated to truth and beauty on a level higher than most people. It’s not only what he plays – it’s what he represents, his integrity artistically and personally. That’s why, along with his great skills as an improviser, so many musicians hold him in such esteem.” For his part, Turner says: “Among the things I like about Ethan is that he makes a point of being personal, of playing things that are musically his own, particularly when it comes to the harmonic realm and voice-leading. Even if he plays the same chords as another piano player, they sound distinctive when he uses them.”
 
Along with the deeply intricate “Myron’s World” – which Iverson calls “so challenging to play but also incredibly satisfying” – Turner also contributed the closing piece, “Seven Points,” a tone poem that has a mysterious, almost cinematic tension and a beautiful melody that at times seems to share the air, with opener “Lugano,” of early 20th-century Parisian modernism. Along with “Lugano,” Iverson’s originals on the album include the elliptical “Temporary Kings,” “Third Familiar” and “Turner’s Chamber of Unlikely Delights,” each piece having the feel of contemporary chamber music, albeit with an essentially free spirit – the two players following each other in spirals of improvisation off the written material. The purity of Turner’s tone is ideal in these pieces, with Iverson’s keyboard tracery to match. Then there is the pianist’s blues in G, “Unclaimed Freight.” Recalling the trick of capturing that distinctly jazzy piece, Turner says: “It can be hard to get the feeling of movement in the music when you’re in the studio, without the vibe of an audience. But with Ethan’s blues, I think we achieved it. You could almost hear a drummer – I felt a little wind at my back.”
 
The Ohio-born, Los Angeles-raised 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 horn. For ECM, the New York-based musician released his sixth album as a leader, Lathe of Heaven, in 2014. The quartet for Lathe of Heaven included trumpeter Avishai Cohen, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore, with The Guardian describing the band appreciatively as “sounding like Birth of the Cool floated over a 21st-century rhythmic concept.” That album followed two for the label in the cooperative trio Fly with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard (Sky & Country and Year of the Snake), along with appearances on key ECM recordings by Billy Hart (All of Our Reasons and One Is the Other) and Enrico Rava (New York Days). About Turner, National Public Radio has said: “He has an innovative sonic signature, a certain floating chromaticism, rhythmic mindfulness and lightness of tone, filled with subtleties. Basically, his music has personality, which keeps the best musicians ringing his phone, and the aspiring ones listening hard.”
 
A native of Wisconsin but based in New York City since 1991, Ethan Iverson was long known as one-third of The Bad Plus, which he founded in 2000 with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King. The group produced a dozen studio albums and two live albums together before Iverson left the band at the end of 2017. Beyond that body of work, Iverson has worked with artists from Lee Konitz, Albert “Tootie” Heath and Ron Carter to Joshua Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Tim Berne, along with serving as music director for the Mark Morris Dance Group. A member of the Billy Hart Quartet since 2003, Iverson has recorded three albums with the group, including the most recent two for ECM. The pianist teaches at the New England Conservatory, and he has established Do the Math as one of the foremost blogs in jazz over the past decade.
YEAR DATE VENUE LOCATION
2024 March 29 Lantaren/Venster Rotterdam, Netherlands
2024 March 30 De Bijloke Gent, Belgium
2024 March 31 Jazz Station Brussels, Belgium
2024 April 01 Stadtgarten Cologne, Germany
2024 April 02 Sunnyside Jazz Festival Reims, France
2024 April 03 The Blue Note Milano, Italy
2024 April 04 Casa del Jazz Rome, Italy
2024 April 05 Cantina Bentivoglio Bologna, Italy
2024 April 06 Torrione Jazz Club Ferrara, Italy
2024 April 07 Dai De Jazz Club Bertinoro, Italy
2024 April 09 Halle 424 Hamburg, Germany
2024 April 10 GEMS Jazzclub Singen, Germany
2024 April 11 Bix Stuttgart, Germany
2024 April 12 Bergen Jazz Forum Bergen, Norway
2024 April 13 Jassmine Warsaw, Poland
2024 April 15 Ronnie Scotts London, United Kingdom
2024 April 16 Fasching Stockholm, Sweden