In concert: Ravi Coltrane at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
With all the spiritual mythology surrounding his legendary father, the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue was an ideal setting for Ravi Coltrane's concert on Saturday night. The 45-year-old tenor saxophonist hadn't reached the age of 2 when his father died. And like most jazz saxophonists of the past 40 years, he has absorbed much of his father's influences. Yet Coltrane neither plays up nor tries to dodge that weighty pedigree.
Midway during the set when he performed "Jagadishwar," a hypnotic hymn composed by his mother, the late Alice Coltrane, the saxophonist gave the strongest allusion to his father. It arrived late in the composition, where his typically wiry tone began to bray into multiphonic cries and wails, while his sleek improvisations grew more torrential.
For the most part, though, Coltrane showed a determination to forge his own voice. He possesses a sound that's at once vaporous and vinegary; as an improviser, he's a modernist, who slyly references other stellar saxophonists such as Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis and Steve Coleman, but never in an obvious manner.
Coltrane drew a lot from the post-bop vocabulary on Bob Dorough's "Nothing Like You," which shifted from a mid-tempo groove to a quicksilver Latin-tinged swing, then back again. The other members of his quartet - pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Drew Gress and drummer E.J. Strickland - have been playing with him since 2003, and the group's accord was quite evident, especially during its reading of Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy."
At the end, Coltrane finally addressed his father's songbook with a lively mash-up rendition of "Countdown" and "Giant Steps," which flaunted Strickland's hyperkinetic drumming. Even then, Coltrane's approach was uniquely his.
| November 22, 2010; 10:40 AM ET
Categories: In concert | Tags: Ravi Coltrane
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