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Published: 2009/03/24
by Pat Buzby

Sky & Country – Fly

ECM 12669-02

In the '90s there was post-rock, but there has never been post-jazz. Few musicians will regret that. However, jazz has been at its limit for some time with the pushing against boundaries of the '70s and the backwards looks of the '80s, musicians now have both the freedom and the burden of making their own choice about reconciling past and present.

With Fly, three much-traveled members of the mid/late '90s jazz wave (saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard) have banded together. Their music slips between the usual categories of jazz. The opener, “Lady B,” sets the tone for much of the disc, starting with a melodic theme that nonetheless twists through multiple sections and lapses into free time before returning to medium-fast 4/4. Elsewhere, there’s a detached rock groove in the title piece, hints of '60s Wayne Shorter in “Dharma Days,” and a closer, “Super Sister,” that shifts between an acoustic drum-and-bass groove and a slower, Beatlesque repeating pattern.

Turner’s style is cool, in the '50s Lee Konitz sense, but not unemotional. Grenadier has absorbed Dave Holland’s lessons about laying down a firm pattern while picking the right moments to break into counterpoint with the soloist. However, it’s the light, muted tones of Ballard’s drumming that are a subtle but crucial part of the trio’s sound.

Sky & Country is Fly’s second release. Although some tracks take hold of the listener more firmly than others, all of it is engaging enough to make one hope that this trio’s flight continues.

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