Ravi Coltrane returns as a leader on an album that shows not only a great deal of maturity but also a focus on his vision of jazz. The saxophonist fronts the six musicians who are, over the scheme of things, actually split into two quartets. For the music that comes out of them and their interpretation of the tunes, the division nails it straight on the head.
Coltrane has included some neat surprises along the way. He turns timing around, stops and goes, adds flurries and short whorls, all of which break linear progression and beckon with their turn of phrase. This is particularly effective on the ballads, where a little jiggle certainly does not hurt. He paints “Ask Me Now” in pastel shades of luminance, augmented by drummer Steve Hass with brushes, and then punctuates the line with a quick honk and throws in thick motifs for added measure. “Self Portrait in Three Colors” is another case in point on which he injects his copiously melodic ruminations with tart inflections.
At the other end of the spectrum, “26-2” whops on the turmoil of his expulsions on tenor that cascade in a torrent until leaving the wash open for George Colligan, whose pianism is chockful of sweeping harmonic splendor. “’Round Midnight” is given a spry workover, a run of squiggles from Coltrane while Andy Milne lets a craggy foray off the hook for unabashed ebullience.
Between these posts comes “Avignon” which oscillates on different levels. The quartet constantly belies expectation as it shifts time signatures. Nothing is what it may seem to be. Which is precisely another reason making this album worthy.