Fri, 6 April 2012
Ravi Coltrane, one of the finest exponents of expressive, improvisational saxophone, leads his latest quartet into Bowker Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA on Friday April 13. I’m psyched to have my tickets in hand, and proud that my employer, United Wealth Management Group is one of the sponsors of the concert.
For those not aware of his pedigree, Coltrane is the second son of John and Alice Coltrane. His father, perhaps the most important saxophone player of the second half of the 20th century, died when Ravi was only two. His mother Alice, a renowned composer and pianist, raised him on the West Coast and proved a strong role model for the budding musician. Now in his mid-40’s Coltrane is a performer and composer in his own right, leading groups and being tabbed for key sideman gigs across the globe.
His latest CD, Spirit Fiction, which is his debut recording for Blue Note Records, will be released on June 19. The 11-track album features two different band lineups. Several tracks feature Coltrane’s long-term quartet with pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Drew Gress and drummer E.J. Strickland. Coltrane also enlisted a quintet featuring trumpeter Ralph Alessi, pianist Geri Allen, bassist James Genus and drummer Eric Harland — the personnel featured on his sophomore release From the Round Box. Producer and mentor Joe Lovano sits in on several cuts.
I spoke with Ravi as he prepared for a busy spring – wrapping up an East Coast tour; playing a benefit for The Jazz Foundation of America in Memory of Dennis Irwin with John Scofield, Lovano, Ambrose Akinmusire, Brad Mehldau, Lewis Nash, and John Pattitucci; and joining Geri Allen as a member of David Weiss’ ensemble “Endangered Species: The Music Of Wayne Shorter” at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York, NY. He’ll premiere the new CD with a run of shows at Birdland at the end of June.
Click here to listen to Ravi talk about the new band, the new CD and his “greatest joy”, working with his late mother on her final CD in 2004. Musical selections include:
Ravi Coltrane – “Dear Alice” from In Flux. A fine slower tune written by Ravi for his Mother, it showcases the members of his long-time quartet, which include Luis Perdomo on piano; Drew Gress on bass; and E.J. Strickland on drums
The Blue Note 7 – “Inner Urge” from Mosaic. When Blue Note Records wanted to mark the 70th anniversary of the venerable label, they put together a septet to play some of the label’s best known tunes. Ravi is front and center on this Joe Henderson cover, playing with Peter Bernstein (guitar), Bill Charlap (piano), Lewis Nash (drums), Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Peter Washington (bass), and Steve Wilson (alto saxophone and flute).
Alice Coltrane – “Crescent” from Translinear Light. The last studio album from Ravi’s mother came after an extended hiatus from public performance and recording. The album was produced by Ravi, and featured him playing one of his father’s most famous compositions, joined by Alice Coltrane on piano, Wurlitzer organ and synthesizer; Charlie Haden on bass; and Jack DeJohnette on drums.
Ravi Coltrane continues “The Joy of Sax” series at UMASS, Amherst, Massachusetts on Friday, April 13, 8pm, Bowker Auditorium Reserved Seating: $30, $15; FC, GCC. Tickets may be ordered by clicking here.
Direct download: Podcast_268_-_A_Conversation_with_Ravi_Coltrane.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:00am EDT
Fri, 6 April 2012
Christian Holy Week includes the Jewish holiday of Passover this year, so this week will feature jazz music of a spiritual nature. As the first Seder is tonight, celebrating the Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt under the leadership of the prophet Moses, I've gone into the category of music that was called "Negro Spirituals" when I was in school, and picked "Go Down Moses"
Versions of the song seem to go back to 1862, when it was called "Oh! Let My People Go (The Song of the Contrabands)". The openign verse was published by the Jubilee Singers in 1872. It's easy to see the coded message in the lyrics - "Israel" in the lyrics stands in for African-Americans oppressed by slavery and recism, and "Egypt" as their oppressors. The seminal recording of the song is likely Paul Robeson's version from 1958, which became a rallying cry for those fighting for civil rights in the American South.
Click here to listen to Louis Armstrong's version of the spiritual, taken from his Louis and the Good Book album. Armstrong recorded the song in February 1959 with Sy Oliver's Orchestra. Armstrong had jsut finished his popular Porgy & Bess album with Ella Fitzgerald, and entered the studio to record a series of spirituals and religious-tinged music. Among those in the band were Trummy Young on trombone, Hank D'Amico and Nicky Tagg on clarinet, Billy Kyle on piano and Barrett Deems on drums.
In Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong biographer Terry Teachout quotes an outspoken Armstrong as being a great friend of the Jewish people, who he felt gave him a break in his youth when his fellow African-Americans would not. He wore a Star of David around his neck for most of his life.
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT