Tur­tle Is­lan­ders play Coltrane

The string quar­tet is an un­likely but fe­lic­i­tous ve­hi­cle for the mu­sic of the man known for ‘A Love Supreme.’

Los Angeles Times - - Calendar - By Don Heck­man

A string quar­tet — even one with the jazz cre­den­tials of the Tur­tle Is­land Quar­tet — might seem to be the last source for a pro­gram of John Coltrane’s mu­sic.

But the group’s ap­pear­ance Thurs­day at the Jazz Bak­ery, sup­port­ing the re­cent re­lease of its Te­larc CD “A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane,” was a ster­ling ex­am­ple of firstrate jazz mu­sic-mak­ing, what­ever the in­stru­men­ta­tion.

De­spite the Coltrane fo­cus, the evening opened with a jaunty romp through Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo à la Turk.” Any­one doubt­ing that a string quar­tet, sans rhythm sec­tion, can swing as hard as any tra­di­tion­ally in­stru­mented jazz group quickly learned it can. Es­pe­cially when the jazz at­tributes spring from the in­di­vid­ual tal­ents of play­ers as skilled as vi­o­lin­ists Evan Price and David Balakr­ish­nan, vi­o­list Mads Tolling and cel­list Mark Sum­mer.

The sounds of Coltrane ini­tially sur­faced in tunes as­so­ci­ated with his ex­tra­or­di­nary solo­ing (“A Night in Tu­nisia,” “ ’Round Mid­night”) as well as his own com­po­si­tion “Mo­ments No­tice,” de­liv­ered in a par­tic­u­larly propul­sive ar­range­ment by Sum­mer.

The solo­ing was su­perb, with the mem­bers of­fer­ing con­trast­ing qual­i­ties: clar­ity and pre­ci­sion from Price’s fo­cused lines; dark, bop-driven pas­sions from Balakr­ish­nan; horn-like phras­ing from Tolling; and star­tlingly vir­tu­osic, scour-the-in­stru­ment pas­sages from Sum­mer.

The pièce de ré­sis­tance was Coltrane’s clas­sic, four-move­ment work, “A Love Supreme.” Al­though the piece has been rein­ter­preted many ways since it was recorded in the ’60s (in­clud­ing “A Gui­tar Supreme” by Larry Co­ryell, Mike Stern and oth­ers, and a CD/DVD ver­sion by Bran­ford Marsalis), the Tur­tle Is­lan­ders’ take is unique. Balakr­ish- nan’s thought­ful ar­range­ment re­called pas­sages from Coltrane’s orig­i­nal so­los while cre­at­ing lush tex­tures and whirl­wind rhythms un­der­scor­ing both the mu­si­cal and the spir­i­tual com­plex­i­ties of the orig­i­nal com­po­si­tion.

The set con­cluded with bassist Stan­ley Clarke’s trib­ute to Coltrane, “Song to John,” played in a com­plex but mu­si­cally grip­ping ar­range­ment by Tolling. The re­sult was a blend­ing of sheer tech­ni­cal vir­tu­os­ity with the lift and spon­tane­ity of ex­ploratory jazz — the ap­pro­pri­ate cli­max for a per­for­mance in­spired by one of the mu­sic’s most vir­tu­osic and ad­ven­tur­ous artists.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.