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Sky & Country by Fly

The jazz sax/bass/drums format yields bountiful residuals with this prismatic 2009 release. Featuring musicians that reside among the crème de la crème of progressive jazz artistes, the unit’s methodology is acutely illustrated by drummer Jeff Ballard as "an intimate band with teeth." And it’s a perfect match for ECM Record’s sterling production techniques, where ambiance and subtle studio processing treatments help ignite an open-air like underpinning.

Saxophonist Mark Turner brings a wealth of propositions to the proverbial table as he tightly integrates linear flows, ascending themes, and colorific shadings into the trio’s scope of execution. It’s a democratic event as the unit navigates through pulsating rhythms and complex unison passages that offer a fertile launching pad for the improvisational element. Dynamics are a crucial ingredient, as the musicians delve into subtle nip and tuck exercises while treating the jazz factor with poignant textures and low-key interludes.

On the piece titled "Elena Berenjena," Turner sneaks up on you as he lowers the pitch via his singing notes, then Ballard and bassist Larry Grenadier shift the momentum, akin to an evolving plot. They rev it up in spots while diving into bop, and then purvey gentile portraitures on the cheery melody, heard on "Transfigured.

Turner picks up the soprano sax during the final, and multidirectional piece "Super Sister," which is based on bursting asymmetrical pulses and fractured backbeats. However, the trio segues into whirling breakouts that revert to a lamentable theme. It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride as the artists cap off an album that is engineered upon compassion, synergy, and exceptional group-focused craftsmanship.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Fly
  • CD Title: Sky & Country
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: ECM Records
  • Musicians: Mark Turner (tenor and soprano sax), Larry Grenadier (double bass), Jeff Ballard (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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