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Home #Hwoodtimes Ravi Coltrane Honors His Father, Mother, and Pharaoh Sanders at the BroadStage

Ravi Coltrane Honors His Father, Mother, and Pharaoh Sanders at the BroadStage

Ravi Coltrane (Photo: Michael Weintrob)

In a moving performance in Santa Monica, jazz saxophonist Ravi Coltrane commemorates his legendary father John Coltrane’s birthday while paying tribute to a deathly ill Pharoah Sanders.

By John Lavitt

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Santa Monica, CA (The Hollywood Times) 09/29/22 – There is an argument that John Coltrane (1926-1967) is the greatest tenor saxophonist of all time. Given such a presence, it must not have been easy for his son, Ravi Coltrane, to pick up the saxophone and begin playing after his father’s death. After all, he was a month away from his second birthday when his father tragically passed away at the tender age of forty. Today, Ravi Coltrane is fifty-seven years old, and Friday, September 23, 2022, would have been his father’s 96th birthday. Not many jazz men live to the ripe old age of 96.

Taking the BroadStage last Friday on that historic date, Ravi Coltrane showed his mettle as a performer and human being. He was ready to pay tribute to his father and mother, jazz harpist Alice Coltrane. Named after sitar player Ravi Shankar, Ravi Coltrane has music in his veins and works today as the co-owner of the record label RKM Music. As a critically acclaimed GRAMMY™-nominated saxophonist, bandleader, and composer, he is a pillar of the 21st-century jazz community. Like his father, when Ravi Coltrane plays, his love for the music is like a lightning rod for the soul and spirit of each note. When he appeared for the first time on the BroadStage, however, the light felt dimmed for some reason.

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Pharaoh Sanders

Coming out on his own, Ravi Coltrane told the audience that he had just come from the bedside of Pharaoh Sanders, the legendary American jazz saxophonist. Known for his use of “sheets of sound,” as a young man, Sanders played with John Coltrane in the mid-1960s, helping to tones and flow of what would become free jazz and spiritual jazz. Given that John Coltrane died when Ravi Coltrane was just an infant, Pharaoh Sanders came to play a significant role in the boy’s life and musical evolution. Sadly, Ravi Coltrane had come from the man’s deathbed. He passed away later that night. Ravi Coltrane dedicated the show to his old mentor and lifelong friend.

Leaving behind the sadness for another day, Ravi Coltrane’s band began the Cosmic Music show with a song that honored his mother’s legacy. On Harp, Brandee Younger played an ethereal tune that set the stage for the magical transportation of the night’s journey. Joined by Rashaan Carter on Bass, Elé Howell on Drums, and Gadi Lehavi on Keyboards and Piano, Ravi Coltrane’s band came together to provide the very finest backing for a great frontman. The talent was undeniable.

Ravi Coltrane (Photo: Deborah Feingold)

Moreover, a great frontman like Ravi Coltrane knows how to honor and respect his talented band. Several times throughout the evening, he backed off and watched them do their thing. With clarity and focus, each band member relished the opportunity to show virtuosity on their instrument. At the same time, they kept in touch with the overall flow of the set, highlighting the music without being too demonstrative or overpowering.

During the show, Ravi Coltrane’s incredible talent as a jazz saxophonist captured the audience’s attention and imagination. Given the significant influence of his mother, he highlighted her sounds as well. Before her death in 2007, Ravi Coltrane convinced his mother to return to the recording after a long absence. In 2004, Alice Coltrane released her last studio album, Translinear Light, which Ravi produced and played on. Indeed, there is no doubt that he was the creative offspring of both his mother and his father.

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John Coltrane A Love Supreme

Celebrating his father’s music and the legacy of Pharaoh Sanders, Ravi Coltrane brought the BroadStage to life, displaying generosity and vision throughout his performance. His emotional set paid loving tribute to many key figures in his life and family. He played classic cuts from his father’s legendary album, A Love Supreme.  Indeed, on September 23rd, as Pharaoh Sanders prepared to cross over to the other side in a hospital bed in Los Angeles, Ravi Coltrane’s Cosmic Music delivered an emotional yet precise set of loving music. No doubt, every ghost was smiling, and, in his final hours, Pharaoh Sanders was dreaming of joining his good friend on that stage.