Reggie Washington leads two trios here, and among the few things they have in common are a common instrumental lineup and the fact that they both serve up ample evidence of how much life there is left in the free-bop continuum. Washington also serves notice of how musical strands from outside the jazz tradition can be utilised in the service of music that exists beneath its umbrella.
Thus the fatback funk of "Reuben's 2 Train" allows tenor player Ravi Coltrane the opportunity to show the depth of his musical personality; at the same time Washington proves how much more effective such music can be when a bassist opts for serving the needs of the music, as opposed to overplaying. Both his time and his choice of notes are emblematic of a player who is tighter than tight with his time-honoured role and how to expand upon it.
Perhaps the only thing that Ravi Coltrane has in common with his father, from a musical point of view, anyway, is the way his phrasing sometimes nags (in the best sense of that term). This is best exemplified on the rhythmically offbeat "Fall," which subverts the common division between theme and improvisation in the name of higher musical ends, providing a fresh take on time-honoured formulas.
Washington and drummer Gene Lake are a rhythm duo of a rare order, incidentally. Together they consistently do a whole lot more than lay musical foundations, and their exchanges of ideas, both from one to the other and with Coltrane, make for wonderfully integrated music.
The trio with tenor player Erwin Vann and drummer Stephane Galland seems to work on a different dynamic. There is a significant shift in rhythmic emphasis on "Mr. Pastorius." Coltrane takes a full-on approach, exploring in his way the rhythmic and harmonic possibilities of the music; Vann is more reflective, and as such no little contrast. This is evident on "This One," played as a tenor sax/bass guitar duo and steeped in what might be described as a kind of Nordic melancholy.
"Fanny's Toy" rounds out the set, played entirely by Washington on various basses with drum samples. The fact that it adheres so closely to a metronomic rhythm has the effect of throwing the rest of the music collected here into stark relief. That aside, there's a lot to enjoy.
Personnel: Ravi Coltrane, Erwin Vann: tenor saxophone; Reggie Washington: basses, drum samples (10);
Gene Lake: drums (1,4,5,7,8); Stephane Galland: drums (2,3,6,9).