I went to hear trio Fly last Saturday night here in Portland. The trio consists of Mark Turner on saxophones, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Jeff Ballard on drums. I grew up playing with Jeff and Larry, who are also from the Bay Area, so it was great to see them both. I was at Berklee with Mark and we played in a few ensembles together. When I heard that these guys were going to be in town I thought it would be great to try to record with Jeff and Larry while they were in town, but unfortunately their tour schedule was too tight. After you've had a chance to work with those two then it's kind of downhill from then on.
Most of the saxophone world has heard about Mark Turner's horrific power saw accident last year where three of the fingers on his left hand were nearly severed. This is of course just about every musician's worst nightmare come true and this news send cold shudders up the spines of saxophonists round the world. Thanks to the marvels of modern medicine Turner is back in action. I think that this was Mark's first major tour since the accident and he certainly didn't sound like there he was having any problems from it, though it did appear that he experiencing pain in his hand. I'd never heard Turner play soprano before. He was playing a Yamaha 62 and had a similar sound concept on it as he does on tenor, ultra hard reed with a wide open mouthpiece. He was getting a nice dark complex tone and had a lot of control of the instrument.
Jeff and Mark were killing, but the highlight of the evening for me was Larry. He was so fluid and natural sounding. It never sounded like he was playing any patterns that he had worked out before hand. His technique and intonation were stellar and his sound was fat and rich. To my ear Larry's compositions held together as complete musical ideas. All of the material that the trio played was intricately arranged and incredibly difficult. They definitely have taken the chord-less trio to a new place.
I have to admit that I wasn't knocked out by Fly's first CD. Excuse the pun but it seemed that it just didn't get off the ground. After checking out their live show last weekend I'm now quite interested to hear their new recording. These three guys are all monsters and their trio really has some serious wings.
Fly trio website
Fly- All About Jazz