A successful improvised solo performance -by which I mean a situation where a musician plays sans accompaniment- requires a great deal of both skill and creativity. Obviously a players in such a setting needs to be able to do more than just support other musicians and make them sound better but the lone player also needs to be able to do more than just create great solos in the group context. No nets or other creative crutches are on stage when a musician finds himself or herself all alone. There are no players from which to crib ideas of the moment. The solo player has to possess the ability to create music that works on more than one level as they are solely responsible for whatever harmony, melody, or rhythm comes out. For better or worse, it is we the listeners who primarily benefit whenever a musicians succeeds at this daunting task and we benefit greatly from The Mouse that Roared.
Turner moves with great ease and precision on this recording which comes from a 1997 concert at the New Directions Cello Festival in Storms, Connecticut. There are seven sections to this recording which have the plain but effective names "Improv 1," "Improv 2," etc. More than one improv begins with a sound that suggests a prologue or an opening but the closer you get to it the more you realize that they are not appetizers but rather a whole slew of main courses. As is the case through out this disc, the clashing sounds and dissonance spawned by cellos played in a very intense manner is not only evident but also an important and vital part of the music that Turner creates. At other points the musician sounds as if he is performing a "slap cello" technique as listeners can easily hear Turner plucking away at the strings. Still at other points the cello player sounds like a master violinist who has honed his or her craft and is showing it off to the world. This combination of sounds reflects a great deal of aptitude and should not be taken lightly.
All that said, I feel a bit uncomfortable reviewing this disc due to my lack of knowledge regarding Turner's vehicle of expression. I have no idea if there are better cello players in the world or if they are what they sound like. I also don't know how radical or innovative the ideas that Turner presents here are to the broader cello community. What I do know is that this is a solid recording full of rhythmic changes and broad sounds that will challenge most listeners as well as please them. And Turner deserves a great deal of credit for that.