May 29, 2022
With the release of Return from the Stars (ECM) earlier this year, Mark Turner cemented his place as not only one of the top tenor saxophone players around, but also as an artist who can write and arrange at rarified heights.
The album, is a quartet project with Jason Palmer on trumpet; Joe Martin on double bass; and Jonathan Pinson on drums. The absence of a chordal instrument like piano leaves Turner and Palmer's sound suspended over the rhythm. By this I mean that the compositions, performance and always perfect ECM recording place the two lead instruments above and from time to time, within, the rhythm section,, forcing the listener to pay attention and enjoy their intertwining sound of three-part harmony. No safety net of a piano, and it's never missed.
Mark Turner has been a frequent and significant presence on ECM recordings of the last dozen years, bringing his saxophone artistry and his musical commitment to recordings with Enrico Rava, the Billy Hart Quartet, the cooperative Fly trio (with Jeff Ballard and Larry Grenadier), Stefano Bollani and, most recently, Ethan Iverson, on the duo recording Temporary Kings. Albums under Turner’s leadership, however, have been rare and Return from the Stars is the first ECM recording to feature his quartet since 2014’s Lathe of Heaven.
Podcast 906 is my conversation with Turner, as we discuss the making of Return from the Stars, why playing live with the quartet before recording made a difference, and how he fell in love with science fiction. Musical selections from Return from the Stars includes "Waste Land."