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Before and After with Ravi Coltrane

A sense of sax history

Ravi Coltrane participates in a JazzTimes Before & After session, 2014

Lately, Ravi Coltrane has been a man of constant change. In early 2012 he dismantled a longstanding quartet, and has since pulled together and performed with lineups that feature musicians of varying ages and styles. As of this writing, he seems to have settled on a limber, spark-filled quartet with pianist David Virelles, bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Johnathan Blake. There’s a new, comfortable feel in his engagement with his rhythm section, and his playing on tenor and soprano sax has been favoring a wider range of phrasing and a more pliable sense of time. He’s also added the oboe-like sopranino to his onstage gear.

Coltrane, 48, has remained involved with other projects, notably Saxophone Summit, the all-star sextet drawing inspiration from his father John Coltrane’s later years, and including fellow reedmen Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano, pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart. With that group, Ravi journeyed to Barcelona in October to perform a concert opening the 45th Voll-Damm International Jazz Festival. It was one of the most satisfying of their two-week European jaunt, according to many in the band. One excited Catalan journalist opened a laudatory review with a one-word exclamation-“Glorious!”-praising performances of newer compositions taken from the group’s soon-to-be-released ArtistShare album, Visitation.

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