Episode 26 of the Burning Ambulance podcast features a conversation with saxophonist Mark Turner and pianist Ethan Iverson; it’s also the one-year anniversary of the show. I want to thank every single person who’s listened to the show in that time, and assure you that Year Two is going to be even better.
I’ve known both Ethan Iverson and Mark Turner for a while; Ethan actually wrote a blurb for a crime novel I self-published last year—it’s called Fifty Foot Drop, and you can find it on Amazon if you want—and a few years ago, I was hired to run a social media campaign for Mark when he had a new album out on ECM. Ethan and I had never met face to face, though, before this interview, which was recorded backstage at the Jazz Standard in New York on September 18, the night they were there to perform songs from their new duo album, Temporary Kings.
Temporary Kings is their first record as a duo, but they’ve been playing together for more than a decade, along with bassist Ben Street, in a quartet led by drummer Billy Hart. And obviously they’ve both had very strong careers on their own. Ethan of course was the pianist for the Bad Plus for a long time, and recorded a trio album, The Purity of the Turf, in 2016 with Ron Carter on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. He’s also starting to build his own career as a writer, both on his blog and in pieces for the New Yorker. Mark has recorded as a leader for Criss Cross, Warner Brothers and ECM, was—and maybe still is—a member of the trio Fly, and plays a lot as a sideman in all kinds of different contexts. He’s also got a second album of duos out this year—Faroe, with guitarist Mikkel Ploug.
This conversation was really fascinating for me. We talked about each man’s early career, about projects they’ve worked on together, musicians they both know, early influences, social media, and a lot more. At certain points, you’ll notice that it almost becomes me and Ethan interviewing Mark, which I thought was hilarious but also really apt, because Mark is an incredibly smart guy and very philosophical in a really unique way. His attitude toward his life and career is unlike anyone else I’ve ever spoken with, and I’m really glad he was willing to be interviewed for the show.
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