There is no doubt who Isaiah Collier and his band is emulating on this album. JOHN COLTRANE. salt peanuts* have already given praise to the group after their magnificent concert at Tampere in 2022, hailing it as a wonderful surprise to skeptic ears (read the review https://salt-peanuts.eu/consert/sakral-sondag-i-coltranes-tegn/). As much about the band, was described in the Tampere concert review, this review shall repeat some of that, but otherwise be brief.
You might be able to guess at this point, but this album sounds like some kind off spinoff from A Love Supreme, but in a most excellent way. We start with bells, similar to those heard on Coltrane’s own «Cosmic Music», setting the stage, quickly followed by a brutalizing saxophone solo in sheets-of-sound style. The other musicians follow through quickly with equal intensity, and we have liftoff for what very quickly sounds like a genuine emulation of one of Coltrane’s first quartets.
I simply cannot do anything but smile from ear to ear listening to this record. It is truly wonderful, and while skeptics could easily have dismissed it as pastiche, the band avoids that elegantly, because how wonderfully it is composed and performed. It is a deliberate piece of music, never hiding the fact that this is pure, unadulterated Coltrane homage. The band nails it completely.
Because it is surprisingly similar to Coltrane’s quartet, not only musically, but in presentation as well. Both the title Cosmic Transitions, the distinctly psychedelic late 60s album art and the five part suite composition, with song titles which obviously pays homage to A Love Supreme. As much as you can still clearly hear hints of Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, and Pharoah Sanders on this record.
Isaiah Collier absolutely know what he is doing on both tenor and soprano saxophone. Not only does he provide the sheets of sound Coltrane was so famous for, he ocasially overblows as convincingly as the master himself. On top of that, he has band his members equally masterfully emulating the rest of the classic quartet, not only when playing together, but through their carefully rendered solos as well. Beyond Jeremiah Hunt’s bass work and Mike King’s excellent piano playing, I found that I particularly liked Michael Shekwoaga Ode’s intense drumming, and you could easily have convinced me that this was indeed Elvin Jones!
This is an album that may restore your faith and let you again find salvation through spritiual jazz music. I know that my spirit is cleansed after listening to this, and I am about to review their new record I AM – Beyond, before listening to A Love Supreme, and maybe even Meditations, before listening to this again. Just … wow!
Isaiah Collier (comp, arr, ss, ts), Michael Shekwoaga Ode (dr), Jeremiah Hunt (b), Mike King (p)