The Mark Turner quartet at the Village Vanguard. L-R: David Virelles, Turner, Ben Street, Paul Motian. John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com hide caption

toggle caption
John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com

The Mark Turner quartet at the Village Vanguard. L-R: David Virelles, Turner, Ben Street, Paul Motian.

John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com

Live At The Village Vanguard

Mark Turner QuartetWBGO

Mark Turner Quartet: Live At The Village Vanguard

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/137208196/137349202" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The kids these days: They want to sound like Mark Turner. Well, at least the saxophone students do, and sure, certainly not all of them. But he's still probably the most influential tenor man of his generation. Why is that?

Perhaps you haven't heard of Turner, if you don't follow modern jazz closely. He hasn't put out any records as a clear leader for about 10 years now; he has no website. But he has an innovative sonic signature, a certain floating chromaticism, rhythmic mindfulness and lightness of tone, filled with subtleties. Basically, his music has personality, which keeps the best musicians ringing his phone, and the aspiring ones listening hard.

Hear for yourself. Turner marshaled a band for a week at the Village Vanguard in New York City, including the talismanic drummer Paul Motian. WBGO and NPR Music presented a live webcast of the Mark Turner Quartet live from the club on Tuesday, June 21.

Turner is known for having studied the pantheon of saxophone masters in depth: The John Coltranes, Joe Hendersons, Dexter Gordons and Sonny Rollinses. But unlike many of his peers, he's also assimilated much information from Warne Marsh, the tenor saxophonist known best as an associate of pianist Lennie Tristano. In other words, Turner has absorbed some unusual stuff, which has helped give his playing its "who else would think to do that?" qualities. With him this go-round were pianist David Virelles, a young and increasingly sought-after musician from Cuba via Canada, and bassist Ben Street, who's partnered with Turner on many a gig over the years. As for Paul Motian, at 80, he's still something like the Vanguard's unofficial drummer-in-residence, and a loose, iconoclastic player at that.

Mark Turner grew up outside Los Angeles, and is among the many acclaimed musicians who attended music school in Boston in the late '80s and early '90s. He then moved to New York, where in a sunnier time for the jazz recording industry, he was offered a record deal with a major label. After four albums, the industry forecast was not so sunny, and he was dropped. Turner has continued many of his musical associations, though: most notably, his longstanding mind-meld with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, as well as Fly, the collaborative trio he co-leads with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard.

Not surprisingly, Turner is a frequent performer at the Vanguard. He's appeared on NPR Music and WBGO's Live at the Village Vanguard series at least four times in the last three years. Those are only the appearances we've recorded; when he takes the stage next Tuesday, it will have been less than a week and a half since was last there, in the quartet of drummer Billy Hart. This show, however, his name was atop the poster by the red doors.

Set List
  • "Crepuscule With Nellie" (Monk)
  • "Dance Of The Infidels" (Powell)
  • "Conception Vessel" (Motian)
  • "Balkins" (Hart)
  • "Sonnet For Stevie" (Turner)
  • "Mumbo Jumbo" (Motian)
Personnel
  • Mark Turner, tenor saxophone
  • David Virelles, piano
  • Ben Street, bass
  • Paul Motian, drums
Credits
  • Josh Jackson, producer and host
  • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
  • Michael Downes, assistant
  • Michael McGoff, assistant
  • Lara Pellegrinelli, moderator
[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Cecilia Smith is Marian McPartland's guest in this episode of Piano Jazz. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Cecilia Smith On Piano Jazz

The acclaimed vibraphonist solos on "Mourning Before Grace," a piece dedicated to her mother.

Cecilia Smith On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/495170641/495179845" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Leonard Feather. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Leonard Feather On Piano Jazz

The "Dean of Jazz Journalists," also a pianist, performs original blues tunes in a 1988 session.

Leonard Feather In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/494127206/494221093" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Oliver Jones. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Oliver Jones On Piano Jazz

The Canadian pianist plays "Jordio" and "Three Little Words" in a 1990 session.

Oliver Jones In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/493257788/493262078" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Walter Davis, Jr., on the cover of Davis Cup. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Walter Davis Jr. On Piano Jazz

The great bebop pianist joined Marian McPartland for this session shortly before his death in 1990.

Walter Davis Jr. In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/492390537/492391202" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Don Cheadle stars as Miles Davis in the film Miles Ahead. Sony Pictures Classics hide caption

toggle caption Sony Pictures Classics

Jazz Night In America

Three Miles Ahead

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

On screen, ink, and stage with actor Don Cheadle, writer Quincy Troupe and trumpeter Keyon Harrold.

Three Miles Ahead

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491558852/491559806" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cecile McLorin Salvant and Sullivan Fortner. Mark Fitton/Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artists hide caption

toggle caption Mark Fitton/Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artists

Jazz Night In America

Cecile McLorin Salvant And Sullivan Fortner

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Two rising stars of their instruments duet at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Cecile McLorin Salvant And Sullivan Fortner

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491556926/491558723" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Norah Jones. Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS hide caption

toggle caption Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Norah Jones On Piano Jazz

The smoky-voiced singer reinvents standards like "The Nearness Of You" in a 2003 session.

Marian McPartland In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491481080/491483313" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Marty Napoleon. Wikimedia Commons hide caption

toggle caption Wikimedia Commons

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Marty Napoleon On Piano Jazz

Hear the pianist, who once played with Louis Armstrong's All Stars, duet with Marian McPartland.

Marty Napoleon In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/490624621/490631097" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

David Sánchez. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

David Sánchez On Piano Jazz

The cosmopolitan saxophonist and his rhythm section join Marian McPartland for a set of standards.

David Sanchez In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/489759939/489765697" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top