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På skive


«Offering: Playing the Music of John Coltrane»

Italian, Rome-based reeds player Marco Colonna adores John Coltrane. He recorded in 2018 his first solo homage to the great sax player, «For Coltrane» (Manza Nera), where he covered a few of the master’s most recognized pieces like «My Favorite Things» and «Naima». In October 2020 Colonna recorded his second homage to the great master, this time live at Santa Maria’s Church in Castions di Strada during Musica in Villa Festival.

Colonna does not attempt to offer reverent interpretations of Coltrane’s pieces. Colonna does not play the tenor or soprano sax as Coltrane did, but the bass clarinet (and the clarinet on «For Coltrane») and the sopranino sax. His interpretations are deeply personal reflections and meditations about Coltrane’s work, employing the unique, reverberating acoustic space of the church to intensify the spiritual dimension of the performance. And, as Colonna himself says: «To offer. To give oneself. To share. Powerful words describing humanity in search of direction».

Colonna’s program weaves some of the least covered pieces of Coltrane and a few of the most identified pieces with the master. He begins with a meditative cover of «Song of Praise» (performed originally by Coltrane classic quartet on «The John Coltrane Plays», Impulse, 1965), patiently gaining more power and volume. The evocative interpretation of «My Favourite Things» avoids the acrobatic changes, so familiar with many versions of Coltrane playing it, but investigate the skeletal, harmonic structures of this standard. Colonna plays the spiritual «Ogunde» (from the posthumously «Expression», Impulse, 1967) on the sopranino sax as if he is possessed by a higher power.

He flirts with «Giant Steps», but avoids Coltrane’s sheets of sounds, and reconstructs the fast chord changes on the sopranino sax as he uncovers the driving melodic and rhythmic veins of this influential piece. The deep-toned sound of the bass clarinet intensifies the spiritual core of «Offering» (originally from the posthumously «Stellar Regions», Impulse!, 1994). Colonna’s interpretation of «Naima» sounds like a mature and sober reflection on love as a creative, driving force. Colonna closes this beautiful tribute with «The Wise One» (originally from «Crescent», Impulse!, 1964), playing it as a touching, secular hymn with his sopranino sax pointing straight to the sky.

Eyal Hareuveni  

Marco Colonna (bcl, sopranino s)

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