Thursday, December 1, 2016

Steve Heckman, Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute

Tribute albums to seminal jazz masters by contemporary players can go any number of ways, not always for the best. If the resulting music has its internal expressive fire burning, then it stands out as a performative whole of its own. If not, one might well ask, "What's the point?"

Happily we find an integral whole going on Steve Heckman's Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute (Jazzed Media 1074). Steve is in fine form on tenor and soprano, Grant Levin sounds well on piano, and the rhythm section of Eric Markowitz on bass and Smith Dobson V keeps things swinging.

The middle period of John Coltrane's output gets most of the attention, and that is fine given that the quartet and Heckman in particular have gained a great deal from studying the music of that time.

The Heckman original "The Legacy" spells out the indebtedness to middle-Trane while carrying on with good swinging ideas and an improvisational voice collective extending the sounds further.

"Resolution" and "Dear Lord" take from the early-late period and things like "26-2" and "Impressions" have the middle period resonance going nicely.

Of course if you don't know Trane you should start with his own recordings. But those Trane lovers like me out there will find plenty to get into on this album. Trane will never be replaced, but he can be honored, certainly. Heckman and company show complete respect while managing to breathe some new life into the music.


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