Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dave Liebman/Joe Lovano - Compassion: The Music Of John Coltrane (Resonance, 2017)

Originally recorded during 2007 in New York City for BBC Radio 3's program Jazz on 3, this album features Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano on saxophones, clarinet and flute, Phil Markowitz on piano, Ron McClure on bass and Billy Hart on drums. Nodding to the fiftieth anniversary of Coltrane's premature death, the music is respectful and well played, beginning with "Locomotion" which is from the 1958 John Coltrane album Blue Train, and it sticks to the hard charging hard-bop of the original recording with the saxophonists playing strong riffs and keeping the theme of the performance moving inexorably forward. It's a taut and powerful performance, with a no nonsense approach and driving rhythm. This is followed by a medley of "Central Park West" and "Dear Lord" notable for the ease in stringing together themes from different periods of Coltrane's musical and personal development. The former is one of his most well known and recorded songs, but the latter is from the extraordinary posthumous Transition LP and it is a theme of hard won spiritual growth closely related to A Love Supreme. "Ole" was a sidelong exploratory piece in its original configuration, one of of his earliest performances to include music of different cultures and lands. Liebman uses some haunting flute to set the mood in an exotic hue, before the music returns to strong classic jazz improvisation with tight playing from the rhythm section and solid saxophone solos. There is some more beautiful flute along with clarinet on the thoughtful version of "Reverend King." Another composition from Coltrane's Atlantic Records period is ""Equinox," presented here with a stoic feeling for harmonizing saxophones, and some slashing cymbal play from Billy Hart making way for some interesting solo statements. John Coltrane's "Compassion" was featured on the Meditations LP (later on First Meditations for Quartet) and this also gives Hart space for some excellent percussive work, setting the stage for the group as a whole to come to grips with the musical and philosophical ramifications of the composition. It may lack the go for broke intensity of the original, but like the album as a whole it presents a respectful and thoughtful summation of the influence that this music has had on modern jazz. Compassion - The Music Of John Coltrane - amazon.com

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