review

Compassion - The music of John Coltrane: CD

This review was published on: February 3rd 2018
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This 53-minute CD, having been recorded in 2007 in New York City by two masterful tenor technicians and ‘Trane acolytes, was only released in 2017 as a tribute to Coltrane’s relevance 50 years from the time of his passing. Dave doubles on soprano, wooden recorder and C flute, while Joe also doubles but on even more esoteric woodwind items – the autochrome, alto clarinet and Scottish flute. Interesting! I must not ignore the three superb supporting musicians in the rhythm section: Phil Markowitz (piano), Ron McClure (bass) and Billy Hart (drums). If you like ‘Trane’s multigenre excursions into the post-bop arena (modal and free/avant-garde) you will love this album.

Personally I’m a little troubled by some of the very technical wizardry Dave and Joe deliver in their improvisation (staggeringly fast runs, altissimo shrieks and dissonant counterpoint) which, in my opinion, dilute the musicality of some of ‘Trane’s exquisite compositions. But on the whole this is a truly captivating performance, sustaining interest to the last bar.

The six tracks embrace seven of Coltrane’s pieces: ‘Locomotion’, a 12-bar blues with an inserted bridge of descending dominant chords, yields an early demonstration of Dave/Joe fluency. A combo track of ‘Central Park West/Dear Lord’ well illustrates our soloists’ lyrical credibility – very tasteful. ‘Ole’ introduces some flute work, some major phrygian scales and a Spanish influence. ‘Reverend King’ finds both soloists setting aside their tenors for flute and alto clarinet respectively. ‘Equinox’ features soprano sax in a minor 12-bar.

The seventh piece ‘Compassion’, which is some 17 minutes long, had me really confused. Again there is much technical artistry involved, but with a long solo intro from the drummer and some excruciating meanderings from both of our soloists, I have to confess that this 80% free jazz track is not at all to my liking.

Despite the raucous final track, if you are a saxophonist unfamiliar with John Coltrane, this is a CD worth listening to. And if you already possess ‘Trane’s best sellers, Dave and Joe are worth a punt.

Kenneth Morris

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The Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 3010228, whose registered office is at 48 Henniker Point, Leytonstone Road, London, E15 1LQ. Email: finance (@) cassgb.org. Tel: 0845 644 0187

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