Mark Turner / Ethan Iverson - Temporary Kings

Label: ECM, 2018

Personnel - Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Ethan Iverson: piano.

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Tenorist Mark Turner and pianist Ethan Iverson, two resplendent titans of the current jazz scene, join forces for an intimate outing. Temporary Kings aggregates nine compositions - six by Iverson, two by Turner and one by Warne Marsh - that, besides bristling with competence, allow for space, reflection, and expansion. Ten years after meeting for the first time in New York, the two distinguished players and members of the Billy Hart Quartet release their first duo album on the ECM label, opening with the introspective wistfulness of Iverson’s “Lugano”, whose melodic traits recall “Autumn in New York”. Turner’s ethereal contribution tints everything with a celestial blue, while Iverson, a marvelous accompanist, creates intriguing textures, contributing for the permeation of yellow sun rays through the scattered soft clouds. The title refers to the Swiss city where the album was recorded.

The title track offers great contrapuntal sections with folk-like melodies running on top of stunning chords colored with contrasting tonalities. Iverson’s initially spacious solitary incursion is transformed in patterns of pointillistic notes as soon as Turner starts to explore unanticipated melodic trajectories, which continue in a brisker way on the luminous “Turner’s Chamber of Unlikely Delights”. Composed by Iverson, this chamber piece doesn’t hide jazz, classical, and even pop influences, evoking at times the successful aesthetic of Marsh/Tristano. However, a bona fide tribute to these two musicians arrives with a strong swinging feel on Marsh’s “Dixie’s Dilemma”, a bop-derived study with the same harmonic progression of “All The Things You Are”, frank bluesy lines, and propelled by Iverson’s nimble bass conduction on the left side.

The game of timbres becomes particularly noticeable on the final section of “Unclaimed Freight”, a blues with a scent of third stream, whose theme blossoms through repetitive phrases expressed in unison. 

Delivered with a cool, quiet precision, “Yesterday’s Bouquet” is a lyrical ballad that sounds more ambiguous than Strayhorn’s “Lush Life”, despite some similarities between them. Iverson digs it alone, finding rich sonic palettes within an interesting arrangement.

Turner’s “Myron’s World” kicks off with a radiating saxophone introduction that shines further with the emergence of the pianist’s intuitive steps. Here, the mood comes closer to the snug post-bop of Kenny Wheeler/John Taylor, in a mix of charm and complexity.

The 3/4 melancholy of “Seven Points” is another product of Turner’s mind, closing out the record with a dreamy ambiance, equally graceful and intriguing.

Temporary Kings is a guileless jazz session whose bi-directional moves converge and diverge with an astounding conviction.

 Grade  A-  [8/10]

Grade A- [8/10]

Favorite Tracks: 
01 - Lugano ► 06 - Unclaimed Freight ► 09 - Seven Points