Continuing the Jazz mood…

In Movement / Jack DeJohnette Ravi Coltrane Matthew Garrison (ECM)

NY Times (review)

There’s a sly urgency in Jack DeJohnette’s backbeat, which combines a strong forward pull with something cagey and equivocal. That rhythmic signature is crucial to the feel of some Miles Davis albums from the early 1970s and a range of other music since. The latest example is “In Movement,” the debut ECM release by an exploratory trio with Mr. DeJohnette on drums and piano, Ravi Coltrane on saxophones and Matthew Garrison on electronics and bass guitar.

Mr. DeJohnette, 73, has known the other members of this group since they were children,in-movement by way of their fathers, the saxophonist John Coltrane and the bassist Jimmy Garrison (who played in Coltrane’s quartet). That lineage provides a strong background hum for the trio, informing its repertory even without the obligations of a formal tribute.

The album opens with “Alabama,” John Coltrane’s mournful hymn, and later hits peak intensity with “Rashied,” a tribute to his last drummer, Rashied Ali. (A roiling, spontaneous duo for drums and sopranino saxophone, that track feels revelatory and ablaze.) There are slow, pensive offerings like “Blue in Green,” from a Miles Davis album on which John Coltrane appeared.

But the story here more often involves an elliptically assertive groove. On the title track, a group improvisation, Mr. Garrison lays a framework of looped chords and effects, over which Ravi Coltrane ventures a soprano saxophone melody, elucidating a song form in real time. It’s an impressive show of collective intuition and no less transfixing than the trio’s intently hazy take on “Serpentine Fire,” the Earth, Wind & Fire staple, or a sinewy original titled “Lydia.”

All About Jazz (review)

There is something of the “six degrees of separation” theory at work in this newly formed trio, led loosely, by the great Jack DeJohnette. The drummer/multi-instrumentalist works in the company of saxophonist Ravi Coltrane whose lineage is well known, and bassist/electronic artist Matthew Garrison whose father Jimmy Garrison was the bassist in John Coltrane’s classic quartet. And, of course, DeJohnette, early in his career, played with the fathers of both of his trio mates.

In Movement opens with an extended and stunning version of the senior Coltrane’s “Alabama.” While the trio loses none of the original version’s emotional impact, they nevertheless take a fresh approach with the addition of restrained electronics and Ravi Coltrane’s quietly surging tenor. The title track, one of two compositions where all three trio members share writing credits, again features a soaring performance from Coltrane, this time on soprano sax. A transformative take on the Miles Davis/Bill Evans “Blue in Green” includes some fine piano work from DeJohnette, a talent for which he’s often under-recognized.

What may seem like an unusual entry on In Movement is the Earth, Wind & Fire song, “Serpentine Fire.” DeJohnette, however, had worked with the legendary R&B group leader Maurice White in an early DeJohnette trio where the leader played piano and White was the drummer. DeJohnette’s “Lydia,”—written for his wife—is slow and atmospheric and a perfect counter for the more frenetic “Rashied,” a DeJohnette/R. Coltrane composition that sees the saxophonist blazing through improvisations set to DeJohnette’s blistering pace. The drummer’s own “Soulful Ballad” is just that, with DeJohnette back on piano and Coltrane turning in a quietly moving performance.

DeJohnette, in a 2011 NEA Jazz Master interview with The Smithsonian, described playing with John Coltrane as a …”physical and spiritual experience….” When looking at the veteran artist’s variety of output in the past twelve months, including Made in Chicago (ECM Records, 2015) and the fifty-year old Bill Evans Trio discovery, Some Other Time: The Lost Session From the Black Forest (Resonance Records, 2016), it is evident that DeJohnette is as much the source as the recipient of those qualities. As a drummer he runs the gamut from refined, light touches to visceral spontaneity. He finds perfect band mates in the always erudite and appealing playing of Ravi Coltrane and the refined musicality of Garrison. In Movement begs for a follow-up.

Track Listing:
Alabama; In Movement; Two Jimmys; Blue In Green; Serpentine Fire; Lydia; Rashied; Soulful Ballad.

Personnel:
Jack DeJohnette: drums, piano, electronic percussion;
Ravi Coltrane: tenor, soprano and sopranino saxophones;
Matthew Garrison: electric bass, electronics.

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