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Artist: Elvin Jones
Performance date: April 19, 2002
Publication: New York Times
Back to the Grand Gestures Of Coltrane in the 1960's

Published: 04 - 19 - 2002 , Late Edition - Final , Section E , Column 1 , Page 29

NEW YORK TIMES

By BEN RATLIFF

Elvin Jones, the drummer in John Coltrane's mid-1960's quartet, still likes to be enveloped by music reminiscent of that band. His new sextet, Elvin Jones's Wonderful World, proved the impact of that sound on Tuesday night at the Blue Note.

Without tipping over into complete abstraction -- if it was Coltrane-referential, it was the Coltrane of 1965 and before -- the music came across in Sensurround. It was ringed by Mr. Jones's unyielding cymbal strokes, centered by the insistent bass-drum accents and snare-drum triplets, and fleshed out by a horn section that included two Coltrane-loving tenor saxophonists.

It's a band of grand gestures: in an 80-minute set four dire, imposing songs were played, including a long minor-key blues written by Mr. Jones; an Asian-mode vamp tune, ''Shinjitsu,'' written by his wife, Keiko; and Duke Ellington's ''In a Sentimental Mood.''

The music had a common theme-solos-theme structure, but the three horn soloists -- Ari Brown and Pat LaBarbera on tenor saxophones, and Delfeayo Marsalis on trombone -- were sufficiently different to validate the length of the pieces. Mr. Brown favored freer, guttural, frenetic improvisations, playing with shorter patterns; Mr. LaBarbera ran through chordal patterns with a dry, heavy sound, unornamented except for the occasional vibrato. And Mr. Marsalis played with rhythmic precision: his solo in ''Shinjitsu'' had a crispness that set him in relief.

Musicians of Mr. Jones's caliber -- he helped change the sound of rhythm sections in the 1960's and still plays with remarkable strength -- are often best heard in stripped-down contexts, and the most exciting moments of the set arrived when the band suddenly shrank to a piano-bass-drums trio. Suddenly the intensity of the drumming surged, and you could clearly hear all the rolling accents in Mr. Jones's capacious, spangly, multirhythmic sound.

The band plays at the Blue Note, 131 West Third Street, Greenwich Village, through Sunday night.

 

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