So timeless is the saxophonist John Coltrane’s music that a recording made to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death can be belatedly released to mark the 50th. This 2007 studio session, by the reeds players Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano, was made in New York for broadcast on Radio 3 in London. It’s a passionate and compelling reminder (if any were needed) of Trane’s endurance in jazz.
The date hits the ground running with Locomotion, from the album Blue Train. Liebman’s and Lovano’s twin tenor saxophones race through the blues-based theme in unison, breaking briefly for solo asides before each man takes a turn in the spotlight. Ron McClure on bass and Billy Hart on drums drive both players on wilfully. Phil Markowitz’s piano solo is a contrasting display of delicacy at high speed.
On tenor sax Liebman is the more obviously Coltrane-influenced, with an elegantly smooth tone that he punctuates, startlingly, with rebellious shrieks. Lovano is looser overall, breathy and slightly shrill. On Equinox they evoke the master between them, with Liebman’s gentle, polished solo and Lovano’s combative one suggesting a dialogue between the two extremes of Coltrane’s musical personality.
Those extremes are also to the fore in the song selection, which ranges from the anguished spiritual Compassion to an unguarded ballad medley of Central Park West and Dear Lord. Much care has been taken over this release, which contains a 24-page booklet of illuminating essays and interviews with the musicians, plus photographs, while the sound quality is superb. A worthy tribute to a giant. (Resonance)
The Joe Lovano Classic Quartet is playing at Ronnie Scott’s in London W1 on November 6 & 7. Details at ronniescotts.co.uk