Beautiful Open Spaces

Ashley Turner

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Beautiful Open Spaces Review

by Rick Anderson

Although this is his debut album as a leader, bassist and composer Ashley Turner is no stranger to either the recording studio or the concert stage, having worked in New York with Al Foster, James Carter, and Sheryl Bailey (among many others) and in his native Australia with numerous local jazz artists as well. Beautiful Open Spaces demonstrates both his ability to lead an ensemble effectively from behind, driving the music forward without drawing undue attention to his basslines, and to write thrillingly elaborate yet tuneful compositions in styles ranging from straight-ahead post-bop ("New Superhero") to spiky, rather Monk-ish modernism ("St. Columba's Twist," "Like a Dam") and coolly contemplative balladry ("Time and Tide"). Nonspecialists may find some of this stuff slightly rough going, but you never get the feeling that Turner is trying to make music that will only appeal to the cognoscenti; there's a warmth and approachability to his sound that comes through even on the crunchier material, and that gives all of the music throughout this stylistically varied program a common feeling of grace and intelligence. Highly recommended.