Neither overly-swayed by or unrealistically-dismissive of his father's legacy, Ravi Coltrane has focused on putting out solid, challenging jazz in the modal and modern bop forms.
His latest, a quartet recording, continues that line and offers palpable improvements both in his playing and compositional ideas. Each member contributes to In Flux, and there is a spirited re-working of Wayne Shorter's "United" with the leader on soprano saxophone. Neither harsh, nor biting, he deftly twists shorter and longer phrases in a manner that recalls his father, but not to the extent of being derivative.
Indeed, Coltrane's playing is free of braggadoccio or any other clutter. On the ballads "Away" (written by bassist Drew Gress) and "Dear Alice" (a tribute to his mother) he has a buttery touch, pondering rather than piercing.
In Venezuelan pianist Luis Perdomo (even more so than the rhythm pair of Gress and drummer E. J. Strickland), Coltrane clearly has found a simpatico partner. Rather than treading safely on Latin cliches, Perdomo helps to tie Coltrane's music together, as is most evident on "Leaving Avignon" and the danceable "Coincide." Gress and Strickland are rock-solid throughout.
The short pieces, "Scam Vamp" and "Variations I and II," show not only a willingness to explore free forms, but also reinforce the leader's sense of economy. Packing multiple changes into roughly a minute's worth of playing each, none of these tracks sounds rushed.
The close of the disc does, however find Coltrane & Co. stretching out on the elegaic "For Zoe." Like his mother, who re-emerged last year with the outstanding Translinear Light, which he produced, Ravi Coltrane is content no make that resolved- to take his own steps and at his own pace.
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