• Live At The Village Vanguard 10/2/13: Ravi Coltrane Quartet

    October 2, 2013. Posted by Chris Dennison.

    Ravi Coltrane brought his new quartet to the Village Vanguard for WBGO's live broadcast from the club on Wednesday, October 2 at 8:30 p.m. Listen to this concert and review comments by hosts and audience members below. Enjoy!

    ravi npr edits_14
    Photo by John Rogers/johnrogersnyc.com

    Coltrane upended ears in 2012 with his Blue Note debut Spirit Fiction. Half the disc features longtime collaborators Luis Perdomo on piano, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer E.J. Strickland. On the balance, he forges a new sound with trumpeter Ralph Alessi, bassist James Genus, pianist Geri Allen, and drummer Eric Harland.

    Spirit Fiction is shot through with duality. The title track superimposes separate recordings, a nod to Ornette Coleman’s double quartets on Free Jazz in 1960. On “Roads Cross,” the quartet starts together, pairs off Coltrane with Strickland and Perdomo with Gress, then reconvenes for a climax.

    Indeed, Ornette echoes throughout Spirit Fiction, even though the altoist’s mournful keen is nothing like Coltrane’s urgent sound. The second group plays Ornette’s “Check Out Time” with dazzling interplay between Coltrane, album producer Joe Lovano and Ralph Alessi. The two tenors push each other and blend beautifully, and when Alessi’s trumpet joins the fray, they sound simply fantastic.

    After Spirit Fiction, Ravi turned a new corner. Immediately after the disc, he set out on tour with the young and tremendously talented band of David Virelles on piano, Dezron Douglas on bass, and Johnathan Blake on drums: this is the group he brings to the Vanguard on Wednesday night.

    While the new quartet has yet to release any studio recordings, their live performances reveal a fresh and exciting group, as in a November 17, 2012 performance of “Coincide” at the Jazzdor Festival in Offenburg, Germany.

    As we can hear, Coltrane develops deceptively simple melodic lines with dynamic bursts of energy. All three younger players follow this cue: Virelles establishes a great sense of space, anchored in the tune’s three-chord riff, which he patiently fills with new harmonic territory. Blake also experiments with highly dense and more spacious sections. Douglas is the group’s rocket glue: he holds everyone together, even as his bass line propels us forward.

    Wednesday’s broadcast promises to be an intense, high-powered show, in a venue known for drawing the best out of its performers. Don’t miss it.

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