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Jazz on 3: Ravi Coltrane Quintet at the Cheltenham Festival

Monday 20 May 2013, 15:08

Jez Nelson Jez Nelson Radio 3 Presenter

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If there is such a thing as nobility in the jazz world, the two surnames that dominate this week's programme are undoubtedly of royal lineage. Our main performance comes from a man whose father is noted as the most revered and revolutionary saxophonist to mark music history – a tough shadow to follow – but as Ravi Coltrane, son of John and Alice, proved with his quintet at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, he's a player who's making giant steps of his own.

Ravi Coltrane (c) Tim Dickeson Ravi Coltrane (c) Tim Dickeson

Coltrane released Spirit Fiction last year – an album that marked his debut as a leader on Blue Note – and it feels in many ways like a 'coming-of-age' for the saxophonist. Displaying a mastery of his instrument and a wonderful sense of understated lyricism, Coltrane has a distinct approach that is truly engrossing without ever getting flashy; and in trumpeter Ralph Alessi he has found a true musical ally – just listen to their instinctive conversational improvisation in the set-opener, Klepto. That said, and having awarded patient listening for the best part of their gig, the quintet let fly at the end in an exhilarating rendition of Thelonious Monk’s Skippy, a raucous swinging affair which well-and-truly brought the tent down.

And to close the show, more saxophone sovereignty, this time from the Marsalis family. Tenor and soprano-player Branford has led one of the leading acoustic jazz quartets of the last twenty years and the band was an inspiration to Nathaniel Facey, frontman of London-based Empirical. You can hear the young Brit interview his Ameican idol at the end of the programme, but until then here’s a clip from their illuminating conversation.

Make sure to tune in on Monday evening from 11pm or listen online for seven days after the broadcast.


If you have comments about the show, or requests for music you’d like to hear, do get in touch at jazzon3@bbc.co.uk or on twitter at @BBCJazzon3

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