Dave Gilmore and Ravi Coltrane
Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
By rights, Ravi Coltrane should have been gripping, and gripping hard, because he and his band mates were still in the process of getting to know each other. In a conscious effort to expand his already-heady musical horizons, the second-generation saxman decided earlier this year to experiment with different back-up players and configurations; as a result, Coltrane put the band he brought to the Albany Riverfront Jazz Fest in 2010 – pianist Luis Perdomo, drummer E.J. Strickland, and bassist Drew Gress – “on hiatus.” (Not that they’ll be gathering much moss: Perdomo has a great new trio disc I’ll be reviewing on the next “Jazz2K”; Strickland is making amazing music on his own when he’s not backing his tenor-playing brother Marcus Strickland; and Gress has so many sideman gigs, you probably have to book him a year in advance!)
Far from clenched, Coltrane was loose as a goose from the start. When he said, “Good evening, everybody” into a dead mic, he simply kept repeating the phrase – with the same inflection, in the same rhythm – until the sound tech turned him up. Inspired by Ravi’s meter, drummer Nate Smith started laying down a beat to Ravi’s “rap.” He was about to drop it when Ravi gestured to keep going. Smiling himself, Smith worked the groove as bassist Lonnie Plaxico picked it up. Coltrane bopped to it all and then cut his partners off, laughing. Good thing, too: Given the jammed-out madness that was to follow, who knows what might have happened if they’d kept going?