The Chicago Symphony Center recently hosted a double billed performance by The Ravi Coltrane Trio and The John Scofield Quartet. Modern jazz saxophonist, Ravi Coltrane, the son of saxophone legend and musical genius, John Coltrane and pianist, Alice Coltrane has followed his own path in music establishing himself as a major artist with a unique sound. Coltrane’s style is often described as refreshing, deliberately passionate and whole-heartedly his own. Accompanied by bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Karriem Riggins, Coltrane’s first time performance at The Chicago Symphony Center on this evening was indeed uniquely his. The compositions were a bit abstract and formless. At times, he’d travel through a cacophony of musical styles, often abruptly switching from one melody to the next. Coltrane explains that this is his way. “I’m very interested in spontaneous music making with a certain amount of surprise built into every moment of the music,” says Coltrane. “When things are too programmed I tend to not do so well. I’m really into improvising, coming up with everything on the spot.” His improvisational style may have been a bit too much for traditional jazz enthusiasts, yet a great tribute to the days of “free jazz” on the 1950’s. Coltrane, whose musical interests include everything from straight-up jazz to experimental hip-hop and electronic music would probably be better appreciated in a more intimate setting.

Contrastly, veteran guitarist John Scofield known for his masterful improvising and energetic style seemed to engage The Symphony listeners a little more with plenty of toe tapping rhythms. Scofield, who performed the second half of the program was joined by pianist Michael Eckroth, bassist Ben Street and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. The quartet played fluidly and with jazz authenticity through the slow ballads and upbeat tempos. Scofield and Hutchinson delighted the audience in a fun rendition of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Wouldn’t You”. Scofield was very personable and connected with the audience by complimenting the Symphony on the venue and its jazz programming. In fact, as a tribute to Chicago, the quartet ended its performance with the bluesy tune, “My Foolish Heart”.

By Tracye Dee

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