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Ornette Coleman at the SF Jazz Festival

Ravi Coltrane

John Coltrane’s wrenching performances and extended solos have become so glorified in American culture that tributes to him and his music can teeter on obviousness–sometimes cynicism. But when Coltrane’s wife Alice and son Ravi got together at Joe’s Pub to honor John, they highlighted the majesty of his music, summoned the spirit of the saxophone-sage and created what Trane’s feverishly furious playing almost always did: incalculable beauty.

Writer Ashley Kahn introduced the performance by expressing gratitude to the Coltranes for contributing interviews and insights to his new book, A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album (Viking Press). After Kahn’s charming checklist of thank-yous and a half-dozen “Love Supreme” chants from anxious audience-members, the sharply dressed Ravi, bassist Darryl Hall, drummer E.J. Strickland and pianist Luis Perdomo stepped from backstage. The quartet, with Alice waiting in the wings, powered through peppery ballads, including “Wise One” and “High Windows,” and then jumped generations and genres to John’s “26-2.” The band treated the tune with hyperactive hiccups, half-honking harmonies and the kind of high-register heroics that Trane juiced from his horn with more urgency and intimacy than his son does. Ravi takes time insisting themes, whereas John jumped from jovial to explosive like a rocket on its meteoric rise from earthly planes to heavenly heights.

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