Mark Turner / Ethan Iverson ‘Temporary Kings’ LP/CD (ECM) 3/5

Piano and saxophone duets are somewhat sparse on the ground and it takes a good deal of empathy for the combination to come off while simultaneously finding something new and original to say, as was undoubtedly the case between Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron. In the case of tenorist Mark Turner and pianist Ethan Iverson, the interplay is, in general, fine, but remains at a certain level of consciousness and does not go beyond that. The simply constructed, ‘Unclaimed Freight’, is illustrative, taken at a slow pace when in tandem, and not dissimilar in tone to, ‘The River’, by Jimmy Giuffre. Blues are in evidence on the Warne Marsh composition, ‘Dixie’s Dilemma’, with Iverson in the first part in conversation with himself and only at two and a half minutes in, does Turner finally enter and offer at once a gentle and tender performance. Turner is indeed that most photogenic of musicians, and, from the side at least, has a striking resemblance to the late Joe Henderson in terms of both physique and stance. As for Ethan Iverson, it is his classical influences that shine through on the self-penned, ‘Yesterday’s Bouquet’, with a relaxed piano intro and, as a whole, the piece hints at Gershwin’s, ‘The Man I Love’. Only on the title track, does the ambiance take on a slightly more sinister tone, with Iverson’s playing quite funereal in places and dissonant in others. The opening pays homage to the studio location, ‘Lugano’, and is a sweet sounding number where Iverson’s classical credentials are showcased once again. Turner, for his part, offers a more conventional tenor intro on the somewhat more abstract toned, ‘Myron’s World’, as when the piano enters the fray.

Tim Stenhouse