4

Ravi Coltrane: Spirit Fiction

Greg Simmons By

Sign in to view read count
Ravi Coltrane: Spirit Fiction It's easy to imagine the double-takes that must have occurred when introductions were being made around New York in the early 1990s. "What'd you say your last name is, son?" Let's face it, if you're walking around with the name of a God, your last name is Coltrane and your first name is not John Coltrane, and you're going to play the tenor saxophone, same as your old man, people are going to want to know what that's all about.

Ravi Coltrane is not and has never been a pretender trading on his family legacy. He paid his dues as a sideman, and his dates as a leader have shown a steady march forward in his personal playing style and as a composer. He doesn't sound like his father, and if his last name was Smith he'd still one damned good musician.

Nevertheless, there was some palpable excitement when—it seems like ages ago, in 2010—it was announced that the younger Coltrane had signed with the storied Blue Note Label. Even the New York Times ran an article—not about music, but about music that had yet to be made. Coltrane at Blue Note made for a rarity in jazz these days: buzz in the wider world.

Well, almost three years Later, we finally have the record, Spirit Fiction, and it's safe to say that this artist/label collaboration is a spectacular success. Coltrane vaults himself to a new level of compositional and improvisational excellence with a record that's a complete, seamless musical statement. Despite using a blend of two separate bands, as well as a guest appearance by fellow tenorist Joe Lovano (who also co-produced the record), there is a textural unity to the music that just feels whole.

But that wholeness doesn't come at the expense of creative freedom; quite the opposite, in fact. The record is dense with intertwining musical ideas that weave together into whole cloth. Between tracks, individual songs veer between borderless improvisation and well-crafted melodies, but they all compliment each other, never sounding disconnected as the record proceeds. Swapping out musical ideas like that on a single date can sometimes leave a record feeling a little like a scholastic exercise: now here's our free piece; now here's our ballad. Not here. The consistency of Coltrane's horn—clean and firm—binds it all together into solid coherence. That's a good trick considering there are two separate bands in play here.

With Spirit Fiction, Coltrane has attained new level of personal musical accomplishment. This is a fully realized musical statement that stands solidly from beginning to end. It's a well-oiled performance from a cast that has obvious affinity for the leader and the chops to carry out his vision. The name Coltrane may evoke instant nostalgia for a legend, but today it also means something else. Coltrane: a great player, playing now, with a great band and a great record. Let's have some more of this, please.


Track Listing: Road Cross; Klepto; Spirit Fiction; The Change, My Girl; Who Wants Ice Cream; Spring & Hudson; Cross Roads; Yellow Cat; Check Out Time; Fantasm; Marilynn & Tammy.

Personnel: Ravi Coltrane: tenor & soprano saxophones; Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone (9, 10); Louis Perdomo: piano (1, 3, 4, 7, 11); Drew Gress: bass (1, 3, 4, 7, 11); EJ Strickland: drums (1, 3, 4, 7, 11); Ralph Alessi: trumpet (2, 5, 8, 9); Geri Allen: piano (2, 5, 8-10); James Genus: bass (2, 5, 8, 9); Eric Harland: drums (2, 5, 8, 9).

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Intermission" CD/LP/Track Review Intermission
by Dave Wayne
Published: June 24, 2016
Read "Tropical Infinito" CD/LP/Track Review Tropical Infinito
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 8, 2016
Read "Bombogenic" CD/LP/Track Review Bombogenic
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 21, 2016
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 6, 2016
Read "Live in 1967 Volume Two" CD/LP/Track Review Live in 1967 Volume Two
by Doug Collette
Published: May 28, 2016
Read "Just for Fun" CD/LP/Track Review Just for Fun
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 26, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!