VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases
05 JUN 08 JONATHAN WIDRAN
No doubt, Seraphic Light by the new lineup of Saxophone Summit is just the beginning of the jazz world's efforts to pay musical tribute to the late great Michael Brecker, whose influence on several generations of bebop, progressive, fusion, contemporary jazz and even pop players is incalculable.
It's fitting that the first contemporaries to pay homage are Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano, living legends in their own right who continue the Saxophone Summit concept they launched with a John Coltrane tribute concert in Japan in 1997. Liebman, Lovano and Brecker committed the concept to disc for the first time as Saxophone Summit in 2004 with the critically acclaimed Gathering of the Spirits. Surely, the plan was for the trio to keep the traditions -- their own and the celebration of the music of 'Trane -- alive on a follow-up.
Without missing a beat, the sax duo fills Brecker's chair with Ravi Coltrane, heir to the elder Coltrane's legacy who does both Brecker and his late father proud in embodying their forward thinking spirit. Backed again by the incomparable rhythm section from the first project -- pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart -- the trio keeps to the project's original mission by focusing heavily on Coltrane's later period via tracks like "Cosmos," "Expression" and the title track. Complementing the four 'Trane tracks and one original each by Liebman, Lovano, Markowitz, McBee and Hart is the poignant "Message To Mike," which was composed by the late saxophonist's brother, trumpet great Randy Brecker.