06 March 2008

Love supreme at the Gods

John Mackey and his quartet inaugurated the Jazz at the Gods series for 2008 with a Coltrane memorial concert, featuring a full performance of Trane’s classic album, A Love Supreme. This band previously performed Love supreme at Hippo a few months back, and I raved about it here. This was a different performance. For me, it was more quiet and reflective (pretty much inevitable when you compare the two venues), a little less ecstatic but perhaps intellectually more satisfying. The segments of the piece seemed more obvious and defined; the playing generally more comfortable, and the audience less intrusive.

John was playing a borrowed 1957 Selmer Mark VI which was in wonderful condition and sounded like chocolate butter, so he was quiet and thoughtful in reinterpreting his idol. This was engaging and satisfying playing, reenacting the solos and harmonies of Coltrane of the period. His authenticity was confirmed by the look of respect and glee on Jonathan’s face as he sat out. Wayne was a pleasure with fourth chords echoing the real McCoy, and generally an ease and fluency and familiarity with Tyner’s comping and solo style. I especially liked his playing on a blues segment later in the piece. Interestingly, Wayne sits out a good bit in this performance, as did Jonathon playing the Jimmy Garrison bass role. There were several passages with drums and sax, and of course the masterful drum solo intro to Pursuance. Mark played these and more with real skill: powerful and clean, but also gentle and reflective at times. I couldn’t see the players from where I sat, and was left wondering how he performed some passages. I remember one spot with kick drum and toms (and perhaps snare with the snare off?) accompanied with cymbal washes that left me a dumbfounded. Now how did he do that? Last time I talked to him he only had two arms and two legs. Jonathan had problems with his sound in this painted, brick-walled space, but played with great enjoyment (his face is often smiling and engaging) and real capability. There are several passages in Love Supreme where we hear solo bass, and these were a pleasure: the mantra that introduces and farewells the first track, Acknowledgement, and the bass solo featuring chords and a fascinating falling 16th note triplet feel preceding Resolution.

Otherwise, the band played a short first set of three tunes: Invitation, In a sentimental mood, and Take the Coltrane. Then Love supreme as the second set, with a swinging, fairly relaxed version of Coltrane’s signature piece, Giant steps, as an encore. It was another night of soaring, emotive early 60’s jazz from John and crew, and much enjoyed. ArtSound was recording, so keep an ear open for the broadcast.

John Mackey (tenor sax), Wayne Kelly (piano), Jonathan Zwartz (bass), Mark Sutton (drums).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great concert. Good report. More photos here.