DeJohnette/Coltrane/Garrison: In Movement (ECM 2488)

In Movement

In Movement

Jack DeJohnette drums, piano, electronic percussion
Ravi Coltrane tenor, soprano and sopranino saxophones
Matthew Garrison electric bass, electronics
Recorded October 2015 at Avatar Studios, New York
Engineer: James A. Farber
Assistant: Akihiro Nishimura
Mastering: Nicolas Baillard
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: May 6, 2016

This groundbreaking session presents drummer Jack DeJohnette alongside saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and electric bassist Matthew Garrison. Having played with their legendary fathers—John Coltrane and Jimmy Garrison—DeJohnette understands that repeating history is easy, but that only someone of his patience and experience can reform it. Says DeJohnette of his bandmates, here making their ECM debut, “Ravi and Matthew are aware of their heritage, but part of the intention of their music is to be recognized for who they are—and that’s already apparent. That’s why I play with them, because they have their own voices.”

In Movement is nothing if not a tribute project. That said, it’s a tribute to many things—some more easily definable than others. When playing the music of the greats, the musicians open their hearts and minds in equal measure. Coltrane the father, for one, gets a serious nod with the trio’s take on “Alabama,” a tune overwhelmingly pregnant with retrospection and taking on a feeling of such historical significance that it feels more like a prayer than a social statement. Coltrane the son lends it visual urgency, dipping his fingers into the ashes of modern discontent and forming an image not unlike the album’s cover art, while Garrison engages in thick description amid DeJohnette’s splashing cymbals.

The title track rests on a bed of electronics (courtesy of Garrison), listing through its changes like a boat along water. Coltrane’s soprano dances, a restless exegete who communicates in gestures rather than words. A brilliant dive inward that acts like a doorway into the alchemy of “For Two Jimmys.” Dedicated to Jimmy Garrison and Jimi Hendrix, it glistens like the ripest of fruits on the vine. With ritualistic abandon, it charts one mystery after another, plotting fresh strata in DeJohnette’s mastery.

Trio In Movement

The Miles Davis/Bill Evans gem “Blue In Green” pairs DeJohnette on piano with Coltrane on soprano for a nocturnal meditation before the Earth, Wind & Fire classic “Serpentine Fire” emerges as if freshly washed in the one element missing from the band’s iconic name. DeJohnette’s funky snare evokes a bygone era in futuristic grammar, while Coltrane unleashes one of his most inspired cadenzas on record.

All of which seems like a preamble to “Rashied.” Bearing dedication to Rashied Ali, this tune documents Coltrane’s first studio excursion on the sopranino saxophone, an instrument that feels tailor-made for his temperament and resonates powerfully alongside the drums in a duo setting. This fiery pieceearned a standing ovation from the crew at New York’s Avatar Studios, where the album was recorded, and rightly so: it’s revitalization incarnate. In the wake of this extroversion, “Soulful Ballad” returns DeJohnette to the keys for a somber farewell. As with “Lydia” (named for DeJohnette’s wife), it adds a dash of sweetness to an otherwise savory program.

Bassist Henry Grimes once said that being an innovator means coming out the other side another person. And in that sense, each of these musicians has come into his own, apart from who he once was. The difference here is that we know them through their creative action, instantly and irrefutably, and can only shake our heads at the planetary alignments working in their favor.

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