For his fourth outing as a leader, Mark Turner puts together a set of ballad standards. His usual quintet is mostly still in place, with Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Brian Blade on drums, but Kevin Hays replacing Brad Mehldau on piano. The group picks some well-known popular songs, such as the Gershwins' "I Loves You Porgy," Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark," and "All or Nothing at All," an early hit for Frank Sinatra and a tune once essayed by John Coltrane. "Some Other Time," the Leonard Bernstein song from On the Town, turns out to be a particularly felicitous choice for jazz improvisation. Also included are compositions from jazz composers, such as Wayne Shorter ("Nefertiti"), Herbie Hancock ("Alone and I"), Paul Desmond ("Late Lament"), and Carla Bley ("Jesus Maria"), and these performances point toward the saxophonist's major influences. He and his group hold their own, playing with assurance and feeling. Ballad Sessions doesn't break any new ground for Turner, but it demonstrates his grasp of jazz history and repertoire.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann