Mark Turner + Gary Foster


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Seventy years ago, on March 4, 1949, cool jazz was recorded for the first time. Given a mandate to record whatever new jazz was important, Pete Rugolo, Capitol's head of A&R, brought the Lennie Tristano Sextet into the studio to tape two songs—Wow and Crosscurrent. The music by Lee Konitz (as), Warne Marsh (ts), Lennie Tristano (p), Billy Bauer (g), Arnold Fishkin (b) and Harold Granowsky (d) featured the reeds playing bone dry (with zero vibrato), high on the upper register and loaded with complex counterpoint lines and freewheeling harmony. Cool jazz didn't catch on or last long, but it established an original sound and made East Coast stars of Konitz, Marsh and Tristano.

Now, tenor saxophonist Mark Turner and alto saxophonist Gary Foster, backed by Putter Smith on bass and Joe La Barbera on drums, take on the cool school of the Tristano group minus the piano and guitar. On Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster (Capri), the quartet chose Marsh's Background Music, Sonny Red's 'Teef, Tristano's Lennie's Pennies and 317 East 32nd Street, the standards Come Rain or Come Shine and What's New and Konitz's Subconcious Lee.

Fans of cool jazz will find much to love on this album. Each track features the reeds weaving and bobbing with the “driving in reverse" Konitz-Marsh feel. Background Music, Lennie's Pennies and 317 East 32nd Street steal the show, but the other tracks show enormous dexterity and affinity for the style's arid sound. If you dig Konitz and Marsh together and how they played off each other, you'll dig this new album. Special kudos to Putter Smith and Joe La Barbera for delivering the knotty bass and persistent drums that colorized cool jazz.

I would have loved to have heard the quartet take on Wow and Crosscurrent, but as you'll hear, the results are a full understanding of cool and Tristano's compositional and stylistic break from bebop.

JazzWax clips: Here's the entire album. Just let it play...

Bonus: Here's the Lennie Tristano groups playing Wow and other tracks from their 1949 Capitol recordings...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.


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