Ravi Coltrane Quartet | Jazz Showcase | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Ravi Coltrane Quartet Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Thu., Sept. 27, 8 & 10 p.m., Fri., Sept. 28, 8 & 10 p.m., Sat., Sept. 29, 8 & 10 p.m. and Sun., Sept. 30, 4, 8 & 10 p.m. 2012
Price: $20-$25
Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane brings a strong-looking new band to Chicago for this week's engagement: pianist David Virelles, bassist Robert Hurst, and drummer Greg Hutchinson. This group could be the start of a new chapter for Coltrane—he's dissolved both of the bands that appear on the recent Spirit Fiction (his first Blue Note recording), which over the years have helped him make his best work. The album opens with "Roads Cross," one of two remarkable group improvisations with pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer E.J. Strickland—it's built from two duo takes superimposed in postproduction, but so powerful is the rapport among the musicians that the combination sounds like single intuitive performance. On the impressionist ballad "The Change, My Girl" the group seems to float, changing shape to follow the flow of the music but never dissolving into pure atmosphere and drifting away. The second band on the album, a quintet with trumpeter Ralph Alessi, pianist Geri Allen, bassist James Genus, and drummer Eric Harland, challenges Coltrane to move beyond the comfort zone established by the first. On "Klepto," one of three tunes by Alessi, they render a tense, halting groove with tightly coiled energy, reacting to one another with quicksilver speed, and on "Yellow Cat" they balance harmony with push-and-pull. Joe Lovano, who produced Spirit Fiction, joins in for an elastic take on Ornette Coleman's "Check Out Time" and a similarly rubato trio version (with Allen) of Paul Motian's weightless "Fantasm." —Peter Margasak



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