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Ravi Coltrane: Mad 6 (2003)

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Ravi Coltrane comes out swinging hard on his new release as a leader.

Let's get the preliminaries out of the way. Ravi Coltrane is the son of the one of the greatest jazz saxophonists whoever lived—John Coltrane. But lay aside all comparisons; Ravi has his own voice and definitely has something personal to declare. While new to some, he is not new to jazz. He's been on the scene for a few years and has performed with many artists and has been featured on recent releases by bassist Scott Colley and Jeff Tain Watts. Whether as a skilled sideman or leader, the young Coltrane is a dynamic saxophonist in his own right.

To use an analogy to a welter weight boxing match Mad 6 is Ravi's third round as a leader. Round one consisted of his debut recording Moving Pictures which revealed the talent and potential of the new Coltrane on the block. It was not your typical debut, as it featured African drums, standards, ballads, and the modern sound of a young lion. Round two showed the strength and abilities of a more seasoned contender with the dynamic release of From Round The Box. It exposed a stylized voice, strong arranging skills, and proved that Ravi could compete with any saxophonist in the ring with compositions that were cerebral, free, and diverse.

With the release of Mad 6, Ravi again steps up to meet the challenge. Recorded in New York in 2002, the feel is more upbeat and swing oriented. The ten selections were recorded with two different groups, including the talents of pianist George Colligan and bassist James Genus on one half of the tracks with pianist Andy Milne and bassist Darryl Hall on the other half. Both groups share the skills of drummer Steve Hass.

Ravi bookends the set with two of his father’s compositions “26-2” and “Fifth House”; each delivered with contemporary facelifts. His tenor tone is deep and muscular as he delivers angular and quick notes. On the aforementioned cuts the tempos are fast with Ravi and Colligan trading burning solos. Ravi is also equipped with a potent soprano arsenal on Jimmy Heath’s “Ginger Bread Boy” and Thelonious Monk’s timeless “Round Midnight,” which is reborn with a very funky groove.

Ravi’s own selections are also significant as he adds odd cadences on “Avignon“ and “The Return of the Olymbus.” Steve Hass delivers polyrhythms galore and Genus and Hall also provide staunch bass lines and solos. Slower selections continue to reveal a lush tenor sound on Mingus’s “Self Portrait in Three Colors”. The selection ends with Ravi silhouetting the melody behind a nice bass solo by James Genus. Without a doubt, round three should surely score points for the aspiring Coltrane and leave listeners anticipating his next move.

Track Listing: 26-2; Ginger Bread Boy; Avignon; The Mad 6; Self Portrait in Three Colors; Between Lines; 'Round Midnight; The Return of Olymbus; Ask Me Now; Fifth House.

Personnel: Ravi Coltrane: tenor and soprano sax; George Colligan: piano; Andy Milne: piano; James Genus: bass; Darryl Hall: bass; Steve Hass: drums.

Record Label: Eighty-Eights

Style: Modern Jazz


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