You have to admire saxophonist Ravi Coltrane. He has never utilized his famous name for a payday. As the son of the late John Coltrane, he could have sold out to either the giant stepping fans or taken up with the interstellar avant-garde path. He choose a quieter and more subtle route.
In Flux follows Ravi's progression from his two RCA releases, Moving Pictures (1997) and From The Round Box (1999). He adds a more mature sound here, and one that also forecasts future development. As with the lush playing on his mother's noteworthy 2004 return, Translinear Light (Impulse!), Ravi is due for a breakout.
This solid quartet recording documents Ravi's working band, with each member contributing compositions, plus a cover of Wayne Shorter's "United,"? with Ravi on soprano saxophone. He also plays the straight horn on the up-tempo "Coincide."? The Shorter cover reveals his mastery of the difficult horn. He twirls passages with an ease not unlike the other soprano virtuoso of our day, Branford Marsalis. His playing is neither harsh, nor biting. Then again that might just be his nature.
His ballad playing on Drew Gress' "Away"? and "Dear Alice,"? dedicated to his mother, reminds one more of Joe Lovano's tenor than his father's. His buttery delivery displays technique over edge, and a craftsman's skill.
Like McCoy Tyner to John Coltrane, Venezuelan pianist Luis Perdomo ties Ravi Coltrane's music together. While he underplays his Latin roots, his percussive nature flows on tracks like "Coincide"? and "Angular Realms."? In addition, bassist Drew Gress and drummer E.J. Strickland are rock solid.
The two free jazz pieces, "Variations II"? and "Variations I,"? hint at the openness and possibilities this band has for music-making. Even more than the composed pieces, these tracks reveal its potential. The disc closes with the very personal "For Zoe."? Coltrane takes a breathy and emotional approach, hinting at his father's "A Love Supreme."? Thankfully, the fruit didn't fall far from the tree.
Personnel: Ravi Coltrane - Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone; Luis Perdomo - Piano; Drew Gress - Bass;
E.J. Strickland - Drums.