With his forward-looking quintet, Ravi Coltrane explores acoustic jazz that is rich in overtones, characterized by lush harmony and centered on lyricism. Trumpeter Ralph Alessi shares the front line position alongside Coltrane; half the numbers are their originals. Favoring a Third Stream approach over swingers or fiery emotion, the quintet mellows some in both scope and intensity.
Wayne Shorter’s “Blues à la Carte” puts the ensemble in a festive samba mood as trumpet, tenor saxophone and pianist Geri Allen all step forward with exotic solo stretches. Ornette Coleman’s “The Blessing” offers the best opportunity for the unit to catch fire, but Coltrane intentionally restrains the ensemble. Leading with the skills of a master technician, he moves through seamless, fluid phrases designed to emphasize the ease with which these five artists can relate. Smooth and legato, the ensemble works in clear circles through controlled emotion. Coltrane has rounded off the corners smoothed over any rough edges to his latest project. The result is a session that captures only one aspect of jazz’s modern mainstream: that which is based on familiar harmonies and friendly timbral blends.
The first record I bought was Miles Smiles. Having been a drummer since age two, hearing a young Tony Williams opened up so many possibilities for a 14 year old church drummer. My life changed that day and I've never looked back!