The Turtle Island Quartet honors saxophone titan John Coltrane with A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane, putting its distinct signature on tunes written by, inspired by, or associated with Trane in ways that are faithful to the original concepts while giving them new dimensions and depth.
Jimmy Garrison's signature four-note bass figure serves as a leitmotif throughout the Quartet's fine interpretation of A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1964). By adding their unique touches to Trane's masterpiece, compressing the movements and shifting the themes, the Quartet gives an already singular piece of music another dimension. The group's spin on other songs reveal other levels of beauty and possibility. The arrangement of "'Round Midnight merely hints at Trane's famous solo; instead the Quartet uses the bridge for their own solos and adds cellist Mark Summer's pizzicato-driven coda to expand beautifully upon the theme. The Quartet freshens up "My Favorite Things by having different strings lead around its waltz and smoothes the slightly furrowed brow of "Naima with violinist David Balakrishnan's bright arrangement of the song Trane called his best.
The interplay on the shimmering "La Danse du Bonheur , a tribute to Trane by the fusion band Shakti is passionate and urgent, with Balakrishnan's violin recalling an Indian raga amidst the shimmering strings. "Impressions , which was inspired by a Debussy theme, is the basis for the Quartet's "Model Trane, and this doubling back of influence enhances the classical/jazz connection. The group's rendition of "So What imaginatively switches up the tempo and rhythm, nicely manipulating its plasticity.
Even if a listener knows little or nothing about John Coltrane's music, this is an excellent disc. But a full understanding of the Quartet's achievement, the stellar arrangements and imaginative extrapolations, enhances one's appreciation of the music that much more. But no matter how A Love Supreme is heard, it's a winner.
Track Listing: Moment's Notice; La Danse du Bonheur; Model Trane; A Love Supreme: Acknowledgement,
Resolution, Pursuance, Psalm; 'Round Midnight; Countdown; My Favorite Things; Naima;
Song To John; So What.
Personnel: David Balakrishnan: violin, baritone violin; Evan Price: violin; Mads Tolling: viola;
Mark Summer: cello.