Ravi Coltrane – Spirit Fiction(Blue Note 509999 18937 2 7 – CD Review by Chris Parker)
This is an uplifting, heart-warming release for many reasons. Most importantly, it’s good to know, from the abundance of evidence provided by this highly accomplished album, that Ravi Coltrane is not in the least overburdened with the expectations inevitably involved in his bearing the names of two of the greatest improvisers of the twentieth century.
In addition, it’s great to hear music still being performed on the Blue Note label that in so many ways – by involving a stellar cast under benign and intelligent direction from a talented leader; by containing cultured but accessible music firmly rooted in the tradition, yet very much of the moment; by carrying on a family tradition begun with a classic Blue Note album, John Coltrane’s Blue Train – emulates the recordings of the label’s heyday under Alfred Lion.
Featuring two excellent bands – Coltrane’s regular quartet completed by pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Drew Gress and drummer E.J. Strickland; the quintet from From the Round Box (2000) completed by trumpeter Ralph Alessi (who contributes three pungent originals), pianist Geri Allen, bassist James Genus and drummer Eric Harland – on an intelligently arranged programme of three free-ish excursions and three more straightahead pieces (including the simple but ravishingly beautiful ballad “The Change, My Girl” from Coltrane himself, plus tunes from Paul Motian and Ornette Coleman involving co-producer Joe Lovano on characteristically elegant tenor, this is a classy but immediately enjoyable album, its varied material impeccable played by top-class musicians.