Album: Lathe of Heaven

Artist: Mark Turner Quartet

Label: ECM

Release Date: September 09, 2014

Mark Turner


Saxophonist Mark Turner hasn’t recorded an album as a leader in a baker’s dozen years, spending that time as an in-demand sideperson and a member of improv trio Fly. But rather than sound eager and impatient on Lathe of Heaven, he sounds prepared, ready to show off the tunes but not in a rush to take us where we’re going.

Working without a net – i.e. no chordal instruments like guitar or piano backing himself, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore – Turner focuses on long lead lines, exploring the limits of his scales. He and Cohen push the boundaries of structure, sometimes sounding like they’re about to leave any notion of standard modes behind, but Martin and Gilmore always keep them in check. “Year of the Rabbit,” “Brother Sister” and the title track (named for Ursula K. LeGuin’s beloved science fiction novel) find the two hornmen trading busy lines while still sticking to the swing, while “Ethan’s Line” and “The Edenist” (another SF reference, this time to Peter F. Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn trilogy) feature more laid back rhythms and longer legato lines. “Sonnet For Stevie” (Wonder) splits the difference, with an easygoing swing but fervent horn leads. Turner’s sax may have stayed in the public ear over the past 13 years, but Lathe of Heaven indicates his artistic vision has been silent too long.

DOWNLOAD: “Sonnet For Stevie,” “Ethan’s Line,” “Year of the Rabbit”


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