Translinear Light: A Celebration of John Coltrane’s 80th Birthday in Ann Arbor, Sept. 23

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
Alice Coltrane Quartet
Translinear Light: A Celebration of John Coltrane's 80th Birthday
Hill Auditorium
Ann Arbor, Michigan
September 23, 2006

Alice Already a certifiable rara avis considering that only a handful of dates had been scheduled for this tour featuring Alice Coltrane and her quartet, an Ann Arbor audience was additionally blessed with a performance honoring the legacy of John Coltrane that actually fell on the exact date of what would have been the iconic saxophonist's 80th birthday. The excitement was certainly palpable that evening, a photograph of Coltrane in a peaceful and meditative moment beckoning from the far right hand side of the stage. Certainly much would be expected considering the sizeable talents involved, namely Ravi Coltrane, Charlie Haden, and Roy Haynes. Ultimately the evening proved to be somewhat of a mixed bag as passages of sublime improvisation mingled with those less inspired moments of meandering cacophony.

The evening opened with "Translinear Light, followed closely by "Sita Ram. Ravi displayed his unique talents on soprano saxophone, avoiding any comparisons with his father and ultimately following a path of his own in terms of sound and approach. Alice's creative muse on piano can be somewhat of an acquired taste, often dense and void of a conventional sense of swing. This quality can sometimes be off setting when heard in context of the entire rhythm section as is goes against the grain of the implied groove. However, in tandem with just Haden on "Prema, the elasticity of her rhythmic conception was allowed to flourish unhindered by a definite pulse, leading to a much more satisfying performance.

Clocking in at around 50 minutes, the first half of the show concluded with a workout on "Impressions. Ravi and the rhythm section led the way before Alice's entrance, her Wurlitzer organ emitting swirls of sound that added an additional layer of complexity to an already charged presentation. Haynes built his solo to a fiery climax with an energetic display of pyrotechnics, leaping to his feet for a few cymbal crashes that provided the ending punctuation to a superb short story. At 81 years of age, the drummer continues to be a marvel of musicality.

Ravi Much of the closing set was devoted to a mildly interesting video tribute to Coltrane, followed by a performance of "Equinox featuring two University of Michigan students who were recipients of Coltrane Foundation scholarships. More of Ravi's tenor work were then heard on "Jagadishwar and "Leo, the music really beginning to jell at this point. Both Haden and Haynes were also both heard at length, leading to a swell of applause that ensured an encore.

Returning to the stage, the quartet proceeded to explore the familiar line of the opening section of A Love Supreme with a funk groove that shed a different light on this classic. During Haden's bass solo, the piece morphed into "Wise One, before a return to the vamp that opened the performance. Like the other pieces directly associated with the elder Coltrane, Alice and her cohorts managed to bring something fresh and intriguing to the table while still paying homage to the spirit of an endearing jazz innovator, even as her own contributions were largely overshadowed by the other soloists.

Photo Credit
C. Andrew Hovan


More Articles

Read Panama Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The Cookers at Nighttown Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Vossa Jazz 2016" Live Reviews Vossa Jazz 2016
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 1, 2016
Read "Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom" Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "George Benson at Denver Botanic Gardens" Live Reviews George Benson at Denver Botanic Gardens
by Geoff Anderson
Published: September 21, 2016
Read "The Julian Lage Trio at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews The Julian Lage Trio at SFJAZZ
by David Becker
Published: September 13, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!