on November 16, 1998
This is a really nice CD with everything perfectly falling into place. The selection of the extraordinary musicians exactly matches the arrangements and the fine compositions. Ravi Coltrane's first CD as a leader is not so much a showpiece of his speed but of his taste and his capability as a composer, as an interpreter and as a leader of a musical collective. Ravi Coltrane doesn't adhere to the usual and boring hierarchy of solo-parts (the leader always first). Moreover, the CD creates a very individual musical atmosphere of a tense calmness which looses nothing of its charm even after repeated listenings.
on September 7, 1998
I will be brief since another reviewer has already covered this recording quite well:
If you have been previously underwhelmed by Ravi's work in the various groups he has played with as a sideman, get this. This is jazz music of the late 90s as it should be: well developed solos (rather than endless choruses of generic jazz information), ensemble improvisation which develops the themes from the compositions, and well conceived and crafted rhythmic bases / grooves in the rhythm section.
listening to ravi coltrane, the word of the day, especially on mixed media, is 'mellifluous'. and the special treat are the trade-offs between coltrane and ralph alessi on trumpet. steve coleman on alto blowing on the joe henderson cut, inner urge, is just more evidence for my little theory that henderson's music influenced more alto players than tenor players.
also michael cain on piano, lonnie plaxico on bass, jeff 'tain' watts dominating at moments on drums, and non intrusive percussion by ancient vibrations.
this recording has a jazz club feeling, a good introduction to how jazz sounds.
on July 6, 2009
Tenor/soprano saxophonist Ravi Coltrane was a toddler when his famous father died. Three decades later, he has recorded his first CD as leader. Let's not beat around the bush: Moving Pictures is a great CD, and would be regardless of the leader's surname. Ravi Coltrane is backed by an interesting cast of musicians: pianist Michael Cain, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts form the core of this session, with support on several tracks for trumpeter Ralph Alessi, alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, and the percussion trio Ancient Vibrations. Ravi Coltrane has recorded with Coleman before, and Cain and Alessi have recorded together for ECM. There is plenty of good interplay among the musicians going on here, making the recording quite a joy for those who love innovative yet swinging jazz musicianship. The songs, mostly by Coltrane (but there are also some cuts by Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson, and Wayne Shorter), are not simple vamps and riffs, but are structured in such a way that they take time and repeated hearings to really grow on the listener.
This is one of those sessions that might not quite grab you on first hearing--but trust me, if you make the effort to listen several times, you will be hooked by this fine group of young musicians. This CD deserves to be made available again.
on July 9, 1998
Last month there was a great issue of Downbeat all about the Coltrane legacy that featured a wonderful interview with Ravi Coltrane. Within this feature Ravi spoken freely about what the jazz scene expected of him. Obviously they expect him to be his father. Well he did exactly what his father would hope he would do, he resisted the temptation to completely give into the Coltrane legacy and emphasized his individuality. If there is one aspect that John Coltrane emphasized throughout his career was for the artist to explore their inner uniqueness and self-reliant strength. Ravi may not possess the free-flowing wall of sound tenor explosion that his father had, but he does have a strong sense of appreciation for the past and a powerful individuality that is intelligent and tender.
I have only gotten so far as the first paragraph, and as usual I'm stuck trying to write something moving. Sometimes words are not enough to describe a recording. Sometimes I wish I could just sit down with the whole world and listen carefully to a record like Ravi's <i>Moving Pictures</I> and revel in its elaborate and distinct flavor as a collective consciousness. My friend John Murph came over one night for a little listening party and we checked out a lot of new music, but it was Ravi's recording that really stood out. Including the Downbeat article I had read other articles about this debut from numerous media sources and expected it, well frankly, to disappoint. Whenever the jazz media goes nuts over something it is usually for the wrong reason. In this case I thought that they were just giving lots of press to Ravi because he's Coltrane's son, but what I discovered listening to the album with Murph that night, is that it is far better than I could have imagined, and for once the jazz critics and I seem to agree. Non-committal listeners would miss most of the intricacies in Ravi's playing. I really began to love this record after listening to it ov! er and over again on headphones. I wanted to get as close as possible to the sound, as if to surround my psyche with the it's aural sensitivity. I have do this frequently with new recordings, to try to completely engulf myself. But with "Moving Pictures" unlike other recordings, I ended up preferring to listen to it in this way. The group is tremendous; Steve Coleman, shines like the star he is. Michael Cain's piano work is just a mind blower, I gotta tell 'ya baby, he plays some runs that just make me sweat. Then there is the tension filled expansive and lush landscapes of rhythm created by the always creative Jeff "Tain" Watts and compatriot Lonnie Plaxico. I haven't heard much of Ralph Alessi's playing before, but he definitely adds a temporal layer that is evocative and complex. The tracks that feature the group Ancient Vibrations is reminiscent of Rodney Kendricks efforts on his album last year <i>Last Chance for Common Sense</i> and since I love that record I find the percussive excursions interesting and sublime. Definitely one of the highlights of <i>Moving Pictures</I> as got to be Ravi's version of the Joe Henderson classic "Inner Urge". He treats this composition only compositional, meaning that he derives his playing from the inward motion of notes rather that attacking the tune from an outward palette. The arrangement leaves lots of space for the players to freely improvise without improvising freely. It is really quite fascinating. Over-all this record has quickly become one of my favorite albums. I look forward to hearing more from Ravi Coltrane in the future. Truly the Coltrane legacy carries on from father to son but not in regards to technique or sound but rather self-worth and determination. END