Mark Turner Quartet: Live At The Village Vanguard He has no website (yet) and no records as a leader in the last 10 years. But he's probably the most influential tenor saxophonist of his generation. Hear a live recording from the legendary venue.

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

American jazz trumpeter Harry 'Sweets' Edison performs in 1991. David Redfern/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption David Redfern/Getty Images

Harry 'Sweets' Edison On Piano Jazz

On this episode of Piano Jazz from 1999, broadcast just months before Edison died, the legendary jazz trumpeter joins Marian McPartland for a few classics and an original.

Harry 'Sweets' Edison On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/612283249/612285662" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
George Kopp/Courtesy of the artist

Virginia Mayhew On Piano Jazz

Saxophonist, composer and bandleader Virginia Mayhew joins forces with Marian McPartland to perform "All the Things You Are" and "Body and Soul" on this 1998 episode of Piano Jazz.

Virginia Mayhew On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/610083723/610086310" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Joanne Brackeen and Jason Moran at NPR's Studio One in Washington, D.C. Eric Lee/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Eric Lee/NPR

Jazz Giants Take The Stage At The NEA Jazz Masters Listening Party

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Jason Moran sat down with the NEA Jazz Masters to talk about their careers and listen to music that played important roles in their lives.

Jazz Giants Take The Stage At The NEA Jazz Masters Listening Party

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/608093895/608239849" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

This 1988 episode of Piano Jazz features Brazilian pianist, composer, and vocalist Eliane Elias. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Eliane Elias On Piano Jazz

Brazilian pianist, composer, and vocalist Eliane Elias is a renowned artist in her home country and in the American jazz scene. Hear her first Piano Jazz performance from 1988.

Eliane Elias On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/607421826/607450646" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Willie Pickens On Piano Jazz

Chicago jazz mainstay Willie Pickens died this past December at age 86. Revisit his performance with McPartland in this 1997 episode of Piano Jazz.

Willie Pickens On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/604342537/604343909" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cleo Brown on the cover of Here Comes Cleo. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Cleo Brown On Piano Jazz

Cleo Brown makes a rare appearance to perform her greatest hit, "Pinetop's Boogie-Woogie," and to recall the style's heyday in the 1930s.

Cleo Brown On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/602133644/602133663" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The 2018 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Dianne Reeves, Pat Metheny, Joanne Brackeen and Todd Barkan are recipients of the 2018 Jazz Masters award — the highest honor the U.S. gives to a jazz musician or advocate.

Gus Bennett, Jr./Courtesy of the artist

Nicholas Payton On Piano Jazz

The trumpet prodigy learned how to improv from fellow New Orleans native Wynton Marsalis. Payton was only in his 20s when he visited with McPartland for this 1998 episode.

Nicholas Payton On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/598825823/600192516" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cecil Taylor performs at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall in 2002. Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images

Cecil Taylor On Piano Jazz

Cecil Taylor encompasses a never-ending range of sound and emotion. Hear an archival session with Marian McPartland from 1994.

Cecil Taylor On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/600173531/600190821" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top