Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

446

Saxophone Summit: Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Ravi Coltrane: Seraphic Light

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Saxophone Summit: Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Ravi Coltrane: Seraphic Light Formed in the mid-1990s by three of jazz's leading post-Coltrane exponents—not just to pay homage to the saxophone legend's exploratory latter period work, but to advance his collaborative and collective soloing aesthetic into a fully contemporary context nearly thirty years after his death—Saxophone Summit was dealt a tremendous blow, as was the entire jazz world, when co-founding member Michael Brecker passed away in 2007.

Still, Saxophone Summit's remaining front-liners, Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano, decided that continuing on with pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart would better honor Brecker than throwing in the towel. Recruiting Coltrane's son Ravi to fill the third saxophone chair ("replacing" would be an absolutely inappropriate description) seemed a logical choice, making Seraphic Light not only a moving tribute to Brecker, but a logical extension and expansion of what made Saxophone Summit: Gathering of Spirits (Telarc, 2004) such a powerful record, and an unusually experimental one for the more centrist Telarc label.

That's not to say Seraphic Light isn't completely accessible. Markowitz's "Transitions" opens the disc on a fiery note, but with an attention-grabbing groove and front-line melody that's equally attractive, so much so as to almost disguise the song's full depth. But by the time Saxophone Summit gets to the title track, first heard on Coltrane's Stellar Regions (Impulse!, 1967), it's fully migrated towards the "no-time, no changes, no harmonies" approach that so dominated Coltrane's final two years. Still, as free as it is, and with Lovano using his custom-built aulochrome (a twin-soprano hybrid that allows him a degree of polyphony that even multiphonics can't on a single horn), it's proof that Coltrane wasn't striving for chaos, but rather a deep, transcendent spirituality.

It's no coincidence that the three Coltrane tunes are collected at the end of the disc, including "Cosmos," which begins with poetic beauty but dissolves into greater freedom for one of Markowitz's most stunningly unfettered solos on record. The first seven tracks are a democratic distribution of one song each by the group's six members, plus the up-tempo modal workout "Message to Mike" by brother Randy Brecker, who guests on trumpet on two tracks. Thus, Seraphic Light works its way gradually towards the more expansive freedom of the Coltrane covers.

While Ravi Coltrane hasn't made the leap to broadly influential—yet—that both Liebman and Lovano have, his is a voice evolving in leaps and bounds. Here, while his warmer tone unmistakably alters Saxophone Summit's complexion, it's still a truly mighty meeting of three saxophonists whose lives have been inexorably altered by the spirit of John Coltrane. With Markowitz, McBee and Hart a creative and fluid triumvirate far beyond the restrictive term "rhythm section," Seraphic Light not only captures Coltrane's spirit but, dedicated to Michael Brecker, captures his intrepid soul as well. For those who consider Coltrane's latter period inaccessible, Seraphic Light capitalizes on its dense beauty in a most approachable fashion, without compromising its elan vital one iota.

Visit Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman and Ravi Coltrane on the web.


Track Listing: Ravi Coltrane: tenor saxophone (1-6, 8-10), soprano saxophone (7); Dave Liebman: soprano saxophone (1, 3-6), tenor saxophone (8-10), C flute (2, 7), wooden flute (2); Joe Lovano; tenor saxophone (1, 3-5, 7, 8, 10), alto clarinet (2,6), Scottish flute (2), aulochrome (9); Randy Brecker: trumpet (5, 10); Phil Markowitz: piano; Cecil McBee: bass; Billy Hart: drums.

Personnel: Transitions; TheThirteenth Floor; Reneda; All About You; Message to Mike; Alpha and Omega; Our Daily Bread; Cosmos; Seraphic Light; Expression.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Telarc Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
Read Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival CD/LP/Track Review Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival
Read Stinger CD/LP/Track Review Stinger
Read Binary CD/LP/Track Review Binary
Read Piano Song CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
Read "Brian Bromberg" CD/LP/Track Review Brian Bromberg
Read "The Way You Say It" CD/LP/Track Review The Way You Say It
Read "Brückenshlag" CD/LP/Track Review Brückenshlag
Read "Strength & Power" CD/LP/Track Review Strength & Power
Read "It's A Man's World" CD/LP/Track Review It's A Man's World
Read "Nine Thoughts For One Word" CD/LP/Track Review Nine Thoughts For One Word

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!