Review: Ravi Coltrane Quartet at The Sage
At the Sage, Gateshead, Andy Hamilton savours the sound of Ravi Coltrane's band and enjoys a well-conceived musical programme, despite overly pumped-up sound levels
As one reviewer wittily commented, Ravi Coltrane (pictured right by Brian Payne) has chromaticism in his chromosomes – born in 1965 to John and Alice Coltrane, he was only two when his father died.
Ravi's well-conceived programmes seem to follow the excellent pattern of originals and jazz compositions, in this case by Charlie Haden, Ornette Coleman and Charlie Parker.
The second set featured Ravi's The 13th Floor, Lush Life and Phyrigia by Adam Rogers. Rogers' style reminds me of the work of Ben Monder, and uses a quite pure acoustic tone with restrained reverb. Rogers used to lead a fusion band, but now works in the acoustic jazz style of influences Pat Martino, George Benson and Wes Montgomery. He aims at clear and clean exposition of ideas – though in one interview he commented that "There are many guitarists who don’t play so cleanly that I love, and sometimes I aspire to play anti-technically". His technical proficiency is obvious, but is there a distinctive voice? A critical view would say that expressiveness is being filtered out or flattened – but his playing on Phyrigia showed what he was capable of.
Unfortunately by this point in the programme the guys at the sound-desk had pumped up the volume to absurd levels – it was always unnecessarily high, and as Lee Konitz would have pointed out, in a venue of this size, a purely acoustic gig, with amps for bass and guitar, is best. Today that is unlikely to happen, sadly.
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