Gilad Atzmon: The Spirit of Trane review – heart and soul homage
Thursday 26 October 2017 19.00 BSTLast modified on Thursday 26 October 2017 22.00 BST
Gilad Atzmon, the expat Israeli saxophonist, clarinetist and author, has bitten off as least as much as he can chew on the subject of Israeli-Palestinian politics (his new book is titled Being in Time: A Post-Political Manifesto). This homage to his teenage hero John Coltrane is a less risky pursuit for an artist of Atzmon’s sublime musicality and skill. Fifty years after Coltrane’s death, Atzmon offers this dedication to the American saxophonist, made with his Orient House Ensemble and the Sigamos String Quartet (Atzmon previously paid tribute to the genius of Charlie Parker on his 2009 album In Loving Memory of America). Here the saxophonist emphasises Coltrane’s tenderness over his revolutionary heat, but he’s dealing with Coltrane’s subjective impact, not mimicking a legacy. The tenor-sax soliloquy on Invitation is warmly romantic, then whirls upward against the quiver of the strings. Minor Thing is a hovering Coltrane-style lament and Blue Train is a flat-out triumph for Atzmon and pianist Frank Harrison, while Naima is a gentle dialogue with strings. It feels as if The Spirit of Trane, an emotional tribute to a master, comes closest to connecting the turbulent Gilad Atzmon’s heart and mind.