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Born to be a player in jazz world; ALAN NICHOL brings you the latest news from the roots music scene in the region.


NEW York-born jazz saxophonist/composer/bandleader Ravi Coltrane takes leave from a short tour of Italy to play a single UK concert at the Sage Gateshead's Hall 2 next Wednesday night.

The show represents a real scoop for the Gateshead venue. Ravi is the second son of John and Alice Coltrane and it would be difficult to imagine a more illustrious jazz music pedigree.

His parents, aside from being iconic jazz musicians, were both profoundly spiritual individuals, and bestowed their son's first name in honour of the highly influential - and equally spiritual - Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar.

Ravi Coltrane was only two years old when his pre-eminent father died (in 1967 at the tragically young age of 40) but a combination of genetics, nurture by his highly accomplished mother - a pianist, organist, harpist and composer with two dozen albums as a bandleader plus more with her husband - and years of study and hard work have forged an impressive career.

The family moved to California when he was very young and Coltrane embarked on his musical career as a young man. Since his early days as a sideman in (ace drummer and John Coltrane alumnus) Elvin Jones's band, he has recorded dozens of albums with a range of other top-class musicians such as McCoy Tyner, Jack DeJohnette, Terence Blanchard, David Murray and Steve Coleman, and played live with many more.

The Grammy-nominated Coltrane, who, like his father, also plays alto sax and clarinet, was a member of the Blue Note 7. Coltrane is also cofounder/owner of the independent RKM record label, producing several acts for it.

Ravi's own most recent album was Spirit of Fiction (2012) for Blue Note - his sixth as bandleader. The album was produced by his friend and fellow saxophonist Joe Lovano.

Coltrane's stellar combo for this show comprises Adam Rogers (guitar), Scott Colley (bass) and Nate Smith (drums) - each of whom has an unimpeachably impressive musical CV - and the gig has significant personal symmetry for the leader.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the release of arguably John Coltrane's magnum opus, A Love Supreme, which appeared before the world just months before Ravi's birth.

A couple of other jazz-related events also warrant a mention here. On October 20, the unfeasibly busy bassist Marcus Miller - who, like Coltrane, is also from Brooklyn - brings his band to the Sage Gateshead (Hall 1).

Miller has been the first-call 'bass guy' for the likes of Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Elton John and Michael Jackson. He brings his band to the UK after a major success at London's Royal Festival Hall last year when he showcased his recent album Afrodeezia.

Sage Gateshead has just announced that Gregory Porter will be headlining next year's Gateshead International Jazz Festival in April. Tickets are on sale now for this show.

After the all-round success of last year's festival, the organisers - Sage in conjunction with Serious - will no doubt be trying their level best to emulate that broad-based and attractively seductive package ! Cluny 2 welcomes the Indiana folk/alt country troubadour Otis Gibbs tonight. Gibbs has been a guest of the Jumpin' Hot Club many times; indeed he was one of the bestreceived performers at last year's SummerTyne Americana festival.

Originally from Wanamaker, Indiana, Gibbs now calls East Nashville his home, when he is home, that is. He spends long periods on the road and his journalistic eye is able to capture source material for his work.

Gibbs is something of a throwback, in the best possible sense, drawing his inspiration from blue-collar poets like Woody Guthrie and Townes van Zandt. Sharp, literate and direct, he sings about the matter-of-fact events that often provide the simple truths.

He has a pretty unsentimental view of life and has little need to sanitise ugly facts.

His last album, Souvenirs of A Misspent Youth, his seventh to date, provides eloquent testimony. In typically forthright fashion, he summarised his outlook, thus: "One thing I inherited from my father was his low tolerance for bull**** and, let's face it, the arts world is full of it.

"With that in mind, one morning I scribbled a thought onto the cover of my notebook that served as a reminder while working on these songs. There are only two people in art who matter. There's the creative individual and the person experiencing it; everything else is an artifi-cial filter.

"If I have one core artistic belief, that would probably be it. That principle and a whole lot of scratching, clawing and sacrifice has earned me a loyal cult following throughout Europe and in parts of the USA, but don't feel bad if you've never heard of me. I like to joke around the house that I've done everything I can to remain obscure without realizing it."

He certainly is not obscure in these parts, having built a strong core of fans on the back of his 'tell it like it is' ethos.

Local man Sam Gibson opens the show.

As next week will be devoted to the SummerTyne Americana festival, it is worth mentioning in advance that in the week after it - specifi-cally on Tuesday, July 21, - there are gigs by popular Scottish singer/songwriter, Dougie McLean (at Sage Hall 2), US folk/country star Mary Chapin Carpenter at Durham's Gala theatre and gypsy-jazz crew Bratislava Hot Serenaders at the Sage's Hall 1.

Mary |Chapin Carpenter


Mary |Chapin Carpenter

Ravi |Coltrane
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 10, 2015
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