As we stated here at Revive Music before, Manhattan wasn’t the only place in New York where jazz was cooking and innovating. Brooklyn has been a venerable hot house of talent and unforgettable events from Oliver Lake and Eric Dolphy living and playing in the same apartment building in Crown Heights to Freddie Hubbard serving up one of Blue Note’s most infamous live recordings.
More than 20 years ago, legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette curated a John Coltrane tribute celebration at the Brooklyn Museum. With him, he assembled ‘Trane’s gifted son, Ravi Coltrane, on sax and Matt Garrison, offspring of Coltrane quartet alum Jimmy Garrison, on bass. That trio left such an impression that DeJohnette commemorated the occasion in 2013 at the Shapeshifter Lab (co-owned by Garrison) in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood, the club that has also hosted shows by Snarky Puppy and Meshell Ndegeocello. A year later, the trio returned to the same venue before a compact crowd during two intense sets of unfiltered jazz.
The trio began with the appropriately titled “Atmosphere,” featuring DeJohnette strumming grand piano strings underneath Coltrane’s astral soprano sax and Garrison’s electro soundscapes. For “Seventh D,” the gang got rolling with some thunderous groove thanks to Garrison’s driving bass lines and DeJohnette’s rolling, prog-jazz solos. Moving on to the Ornette Coleman composition “The Good Life,” Ravi switched over to tenor sax and really put his stamp on an infectious melody, with DeJohnette’s tribal percussion adding some excitement all the while.
The lone ballad of the night, “Lydia,” was a DeJohnette original, named after his wife of 47 years. Coltrane shined brightly during this loving tribute and Garrison’s understated bottom was as steady and crucial as a beating heart. Speaking of Coltrane, the trio capped the evening with two of Ravi’s dad’s songs, “Wise One” and “Countdown.” He did an expert job, recapturing the melody of the former that John created so masterfully while DeJohnette rendered the latter nearly unrecognizable with an ambient– then pounding treatment, making for a satisfying finale.
The Good Life