“Three for Thee”
Musicians: Ravi Coltrane (sax); Adam Rogers (guitar); Yunior Cabrera (bass); EJ Strickland (drums)
Producers: Suraya Mohamed, Niki Walker
Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
Videographers: Niki Walker, Morgan Noelle Smith
PA: Bria Granville
Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR.
Ravi Coltrane not only adorns his namesake with the commensurate originality and skill of his esteemed pedigree, which consists of both John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda, but he is also a jazz visionary in his own right.
One of NPR Tiny Desk’s most recent video performances shows Coltrane at a virtuosic peak, surrounded by an unbelievably talented set of musicians that accentuate each other’s work beautifully. The other members of the quartet come from creatively-oriented families as well. The drummer, E.J. Strickland, is the brother of saxophonist Marcus Strickland, guitarist Adam Rogers comes from a family of Broadway actors, and bassist Yunior Terry is the brother of latin jazz artist Yosvany Terry.
Coltrane’s NPR performance serves to emphasize both his strong improvisational abilities and his knack for deliberate composition. The first song performed by the quartet is “Cobbs Hill,” and was written by his Cal Arts classmate Ralph Alessi. The song begins with an active isolated bass line, and is soon accompanied by a marching snare-driven drum beat and Ravi’s haunting soprano sax. The performance also incorporates eastern musical elements, which brings to mind the work of his parents and especially Alice Coltrane.
The second song performed by the quartet is Coltrane’s composition titled “Three for Thee,” originally released on Ravi’s 1998 album Moving Pictures. The song features a splashy and loose drum intro that eventually fades to give way to the saxophone and guitar, which are interwoven seamlessly into a blend of free jazz bliss. The song is so loose that it seems like it might fall apart at any moment, which creates a tension that catches the listeners attention. The delicate instrumental interplay and loose tension underscore Coltrane’s impressive compositional abilities.
“Phyrgia,” the third song performed by Coltrane’s quartet, is an eager display of dynamic manipulation. At times the song sounds like a reverberating Thad Jones orchestral piece, and at other times it swings into a stripped cool jazz sound that provides a spellbinding listening experience.
The quartet’s performance is a testament to their sharp musicianship, and their innovative interpretations of the pieces performed have added dutifully to the jazz canon.
For more, check out Ravi Coltrane’s Zumic artist page.