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In Spirit of John Coltrane

5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 11, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

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Perennially underrated saxophonist Sonny Fortune has worked with Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, and Elvin Jones. Not coincidentally, each of these musicians enjoyed a close relationship with Fortune's overriding musical influence, John Coltrane. In the Spirit consists mostly of originals by Fortune written under the influence of Trane. "Hangin' Out with J.C." borrows its chord structure from "Countdown" and "Moment's Notice," while the title track is a deep ballad reminiscent of "Dear Lord." Although he's best known as an alto saxophonist, Fortune also plays tenor and soprano here, distinguishing himself accordingly on each horn. He's accompanied by a topnotch rhythm section including John Hicks on piano, Santi Debriano on bass, and Ronnie Burrage on drums. On the last track, "For John," bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Rashied Ali lift off with Fortune on a visit to interstellar space. The spirit lives. -- Rick Mitchell
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 11, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Shanachie
  • ASIN: B00003IE1T
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,098 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
I consider Fortune to be one of the three greatest living jazz saxophonists (along with Joe Henderson and John Handy). I therefore was confident that this tribute to the music of John Coltrane would be a terrific piece of work. I was not disappointed.
The title tells it all. "In the Spirit" is not an attempt to ape Coltrane's music. It is an effort to capture the passion and lyricism that drove Coltrane's unending quest for new ways to play music. In this effort, Fortune succeeds brilliantly.
In the first place, he has the musical chops to bring it off. Any Coltrane fan knows that even aspiring to emulate the power of Trane's playing is a task not to be undertaken lightly. But on "For John," Fortune, along with ex-Coltrane colleagues Reggie Workman and Rashied Ali, tears through a whirlwind tenor attack that is indeed a memorable offering to the great saxophonist.
The seriousness of Fortune's tribute is also evident on "In the Spirit," which taps into the lyricism and spirituality of the classic Coltrane quartet. Fortune plays a figure that reminds me of a fragment from Coltrane's great composition "Lonnie's Lament," and he then fashions a passionate and absorbing solo, aided by the sensitive piano backing of John Hicks.
Seven of the nine tunes were written by Fortune himself, helping to stamp the release as his own. The two Coltrane originals, "Africa," from Coltrane's record with small orchestra, "Africa Brass," and "Ole," from the Atlantic album of the same name, are also well done. "Ole" features a percussion-heavy backing that gives the tune a different flavor from the minor-key, Eastern-sounding original.
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Format: Audio CD
If you haven't been listening to Sonny Fortune's own releases since the first on the old A&M Horizon label, you have missed one of the better post-bop alto players of the day. Sonny's work shows a love of both Cannonball and Coltrane, as his bright tone on alto merges with the keening wail of Trane to shadow his luminescent playing with a profound sense of hope. Fortune is a very powerful player, as his deft handling of the tenor on this recording emphasizes. His tenor playing is resonant of Trane, but with his own sense of space and discipline. The soprano playing on this album is also terrific, and the trio of John Hicks(one of the greats!), Santi Debriano, and Ronnie Burrage play brilliantly with Fortune. Try to find the Bluenote release "From Now On" also, especially for the tracks with Joe Lovano and Eddie Henderson.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Somehow, Sonny passed under the radar of all those other great philadelphia players, but he is a wonderful interpreter of Coltrane and Shorter too, although no Shorter tunes appear on this fine CD. I had the chance to see him at The Reedmor in Cincinnati recently and he wailed! He is 70 but plays with lots of energy. This CD is well worth your time and money if you like free blowing. Buy it.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Sonny's time spent with Miles gave a powerful emphasis to the music. His masterful soprano lent fire and excitement to the proceedings. I am glad he chose to do this tribute to Coltrane... he was clearly heavily influenced by the master. Well done SF !
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