COMPOSERS: Mark Turner
PERFORMER: Mark Turner (ts), Kurt Rosenwinkel (g), Reid Anderson (b), Nasheet Waits (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 9362-47998-2
Tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, in eight years of recording as a leader, for both Criss Cross and Warner, has established himself chiefly thanks to his unusual tone: a frequently wispily discursive manner of playing that has prompted listeners to compare him with light-toned, ‘cool’ players such as Warne Marsh rather than with more robust, overtly vigorous hornmen like Sonny Rollins.
On this, Turner’s fourth Warner album, however, by concentrating solely on his own quirky but consistently powerful compositions, he has managed to broaden his stylistic range considerably.
Sharing front-line duties with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel – who demonstrates superb adaptability and lightning responsiveness throughout – and flawlessly propelled by the intense but flexible rhythm section of bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Nasheet Waits, Turner moves confidently between dense, bustling themes packed with passionate tenor flurries and floating, slow-building ballads imbued with an almost Wayne Shorter-like eccentricity.
Whatever the tempo or mood, though – and one of the album’s most immediately striking qualities is the sureness with which Turner handles the many emotional and rhythmic twists and turns that characterise his highly original compositions – the quartet sounds utterly committed throughout, fiercely interactive and dreamily contemplative as required.
Dharma Days may place a great many more demands on its listeners than Turner’s previous album, the self-explanatory Ballad Session, but its rewards are strictly proportionate and firmly establish the Ohio-born saxophonist in the front rank of contemporary leader/composers. Chris Parker