Ravi Coltrane: Blending Times (2009)
Half of the 10 tracks are listed as "improvisations conceived and directed" by the leader. The banter heard right before "Narcined" clues one in to some extent: Coltrane says "bass drum" to Strickland and up comes an open-ended five minutes of funkfrankly, the least interesting example. "Amalgams," "Before with After," "First Circuit" and "The Last Circuit" go deeper, into a coordinated flow of entrances and exits, solos and pairs. These freeform tracks succeed on multiple levels: as complete pieces, as virtuoso feature spots, as breaks in between the written works (Ralph Alessi's leaping "One Wheeler Will," Ravi's moody "A Still Life," "Epistrophy" in an agitated 5/8 and 4/4). Centering it all is Coltrane's robust saxophone work, from mournful legato testaments to lithe, overflowing bursts of notes, reflecting both discipline and unchecked imagination.
Track Listing: Shine; First Circuit; A Still Life; Epistrophy; Amalgams; Narcined; One Wheeler Will; The Last Circuit; Before with After; For Turiya.
Personnel: Ravi Coltrane: tenor saxophone; Luis Perdomo: piano; Drew Gress: acoustic bass; E. J. Strickland: drums; Charlie Haden: bass (10); Brandee Younger: harp (10).
Record Label: Savoy Jazz
Style: Modern Jazz