Sunday, August 3, 2014 Fort Adams State Park
Photo by Michael Weintrob
2009 marks the release of Ravi Coltrane's highly anticipated BLENDING TIMES, his follow-up to the Grammy nominated, IN FLUX (Savoy Jazz). On BLENDING TIMES, Ravi solidifies his standing as one of today's most innovative jazz artists and improvisers.
The recording is a stunning set of musically diverse, rhythmically eclectic pieces featuring his longtime bandmates--pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Drew Gress and drummer E.J. Strickland-with guest artists Charlie Haden and harpist Brandee Younger. It captures the fluidity of the group's spontaneous improvisations as well as highlights more structured compositions of a familiar group dialogue. In essence, the title BLENDING TIMES suggest a point of convergence for the past and the present.
The ten individual tracks on this cinematic recording mesh seamlessly throughout: the sensually elegant opener "Shine" is followed by the densely percussive and sonically soaring "First Circuit". The contemplative "A Still Life" blends into the bright and hard swinging take on Thelonius Monk's "Epistrophy". The haunting and moody "Almalgams" flows effortlessly into the whimsical "Narcined". Group dynamics is in full force on Ralph Alessi's "One Wheeler Will" quietly fading into to the pondering yet playful "The Last Circuit" which then opens the way for a graceful "Before With After". The session concludes with the elegiac "For Turiya". Composed by Charlie Haden, For Turiya, was written for Alice Coltrane and was originally recorded by the bassist and Mrs. Coltrane in 1976.
About For Turiya, Coltrane says "Playing with Charlie resonates in many ways," he says. "I have known him for the majority of my life. When I was young, I heard his name often. My mother used him on most of her recordings throughout the seventies. When I decided to learn about music, I study with Charlie at Cal Arts. I learned so much from him during my time in school. Not only did he show me about the beauty of music and creating, he also provided an example of what it meant to be a working musician at the highest level."
One of the keys to the ongoing transmission of this musical vision is the strength of the ensemble as embodied in the quality of interaction between Ravi and his band. "We've moved forward together in our musical communication." he says. "These guys are all such incredible collaborators. I've really been fortunate in this regard."
Born in Long Island, New York in 1965, the second son of John and Alice Coltrane, Ravi was named after Indian sitar legend Ravi Shankar. Shortly thereafter the family moved to the Los Angeles, where Ravi first began developing his own personal interest in the arts. As young man, he initially began playing clarinet and switched to saxophone in high school. In 1991, his father's renowned drummer, Elvin Jones, saw in Ravi an emergent authentic performer, and hired Ravi to play with his band. After his tenure with Elvin, Ravi found himself working alongside a list of names that reads like the Who's Who of American Jazz and Pop, including: McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Michael Brecker, George Duke, Stanley Clarke Jeff "Tain" Watts, Branford Marsalis, Mark Turner, Jacky Terrasson, Jack DeJohnnette, Rashied Ali, Wallace Roney, Antoine Roney, Geri Allen, Kenny Barron, Cindy Blackman, Joe Lovano, Joanne Brackeen, Gerry Gibbs, Graham Haynes, and Steve Coleman for whom he appears on several albums. Indeed, Ravi's credits include recording on well over forty recordings as a sideman.
Photos: (left to right) Bobby McFerrin, Robert Glasper, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis, Dr. John, John Zorn