Sunday, July 03, 2016

CD Review: Jack DeJohnette/ Ravi Coltrane/ Matthew Garrison - In Movement

Jack DeJohnette/ Ravi Coltrane/ Matthew Garrison
In Movement

It might seem like some cross-generational meeting of the minds that was dreamed up in a p.r. office: Jack DeJohnette - a drummer with an illustrious career that includes a guest spot with John Coltrane during his later, adventurous period - teaming up with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Matthew Garrison, the respective sons of Coltrane and his longtime bassist Jimmy Garrison.

But drawing that conclusion would be to underestimate the methods of these three musicians. Garrison lived briefly with DeJohnette, his godfather, and the three of them played together informally at a birthday party, then at a one-off concert in 1992. Years later, as Coltrane and Garrison evolved as performers, DeJohnette decided to bring them together in this trio.

In Movement lives up to its name, with a set of music clearly living for today, but begins with a nod to the past, and big shoes to fill. It opens with John Coltrane's meditative, troubled piece "Alabama." The trio unfolds it slowly, staying in rubato mode throughout and getting aggressive towards the climax, especially DeJohnette, who gets good and loud. Any attempt to compare Ravi Coltrane's playing to his father's falls by the wayside in the next track, "In Movement." Credited to all three musicians, it begins with a bass guitar solo so fluid, it sounds like an acoustic guitar. A one-note sample (Garrison is also credited with electronics and DeJohnette with electronic percussion) and a repetitive bass line eventually bring in drums and sopranino saxophone. Coltrane's playing reveals a unique set of phrases, never beginning or ending in a predictable manner. At first he plays in a short phrases of just a few bars, but he eventually extends his lines, as Garrison's double stops generate excitement.

"In Movement" lasts nine minutes, building all the way, followed by "Two Jimmys" which gets a little funky but meanders during its eight minutes. A more interesting take on funk comes with a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Serpentine Fire," a deep-cut cover choice that finds DeJohnette using a dirty groove similar to the one in "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down," before they break into a semi-free, fuzz-bass-driven improvisation towards the ending. Speaking of Miles, DeJohnette switches to piano and joins Coltrane (on soprano) for a duo reading of the Davis/Bill Evans ballad "Blue In Green," which also gets opened up and explored. DeJohnette's opening droplets of notes are riveting.

The album isn't limited to group-credited pieces and interpretations either. "Rashied" pays tribute to drummer Rashied Ali with a clipped, fast theme. "Lydia" is a gentle ballad for DeJohnette's wife which flows loosely but with more direction than some of the earlier pieces.

A recent article about the trio recalled that party at which all three played together for the first time. Coltrane and Garrison got a little tired after a few songs. DeJohnette on the other hand was unstoppable, telling them they were just getting warmed up. Hopefully that will hold true for this group too. It sounds like they've just begun to tap their capabilities as a unit.

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