This is a quality album that ranks alongside the very best recorded at this iconic venue.

Giant Step Arts GSA 010

Mark Turner (tenor saxophone); Jason Palmer (trumpet); Joe Martin (bass); Jonathan Pinson (drums)

Recorded June 14-16, 2022

This is the first album in a new series of recordings under the Giant Step’s initiative Modern Masters and New Horizons, and Mark Turner’s first ever live album as leader.

He may have bided his time before doing so, but the resulting music more justifies his decision, as it doesn’t get much better than this.

Emerging in the early 1990’ with a whole host of young musicians wanting to make their mark on the music, Turner was not one to rush headlong into the fray of publicity and instead has steadily built a body of work that has shown continuous growth and development and forged a reputation as one of the most important saxophonists of his time.

What is remarkable about Turner is that he seems to have found his own voice and vocabulary and does not sound or play like anyone else.

At the beginning of his career the only discernible influence was that of Warne Marsh, but then Turner simply assimilated what he needed and moved on.

Live at the Village Vanguard catches Turner and his colleague in a purple patch, and the album is worthy of bearing the lofty title that has graced so many great albums over the years.

The Quartet is the same personnel that recorded the excellent Return from The Stars album for ECM, and it is a joy to hear how they have developed as a unit since then.

Equally fascinating is how the Quartet have stretched out the music recorded in the studio in live performance. All of the compositions from the ECM release are played at the Vanguard, ad examined at some length.

The relationship between the four musicians is captured beautifully on this recording with the startling interaction between the musicians whether playing exceptional ensemble passages or counterpoint, and the way in which they intuitively split into smaller partnerships as the music dictates.

Turner compositions also cover a lot of ground musically, from the opening solo saxophone on ‘Wasteland’ that is then joined by trumpet to be followed by Pinson’s rolling drums and arco bass, to the gentle swagger in the bass line of ‘Terminus’.

The bop inspired theme of Nigeria 2’ pivots on the propulsive axis provided by bass and drums that give a solid footing for the most forthright soloing from the horns.

Perhaps the most staggering and inspired playing pf the set can be heard on ‘Brother Sister’ with Turner’s long unaccompanied tenor solo that is the backbone of the composition and feeds what is to come when joined by the rest of the quartet.

This is a quality album that ranks alongside the very best recorded at this iconic venue.