As the son of legendary saxophonist John Coltrane and keyboardist/composer Alice Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane is heir to a powerful jazz legacy. Yet the younger Coltrane, who's coming to St. Louis to perform February 27 through March 1 at Jazz at the Bistro, seems at ease with the notion of following in such famous footsteps. Like his dad, he plays tenor and soprano sax, and he isn't afraid to invite further comparison by sometimes performing some of his father's music. He even worked for several years in the band of drummer Elvin Jones, who anchored the elder Coltrane's classic quartet of the 1960s.
This week's videos offer some insight into how Ravi Coltrane is continuing his father's work while also asserting his own identity, as they show him performing two pieces of music closely associated with his dad. The first clip is an excerpt from a live performance of "Impressions" by Ravi's quartet, filmed last September at EZ's Woodshed in Harlem, NYC. Although the audio/video quality is pretty rough, I think it's worth checking out because it shows Ravi cutting loose and expending some raw energy in a manner that very much recalls his father's late-career work. The other musicians are Rudy Royston, a bit overmiked here, on drums, pianist Lewis Porter and bassist Ratzo Harris.
The second clip is of much better A/V quality, and shows Ravi performing alongside fellow saxophonists Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman - both also heavily influenced by Trane - in the ensemble Saxophone Summit. In this video, also from September 2007, they're playing John Coltrane's composition "Expressions". That's Randy Brecker joining the front line and soloing on trumpet, with pianist Phil Markowitz, drummer Billy Hart and bassist Cecil McBee in the rhythm section.