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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Thursday, 06 July 2017 14:38

Denys Baptiste - The Late Trane

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Baptiste re-imagines late Coltrane to great effect.

Edition Records have done it again. Last month they released yet another mighty work, that of British saxophonist Denys Baptiste, a graduate of Tomorrow’s Warriors as well as a composer and arranger.

Edition have the knack to attract some incredible talented artists: Jason Rebello, Laura Jurd, Misha Mullov-Abbado, Verneri Pohjola to name a few, so a new home for Denys Baptiste with Edition is really no surprise to me.  

Baptiste deserves the best that there is and his latest album The Late Trane will find a great place with Edition Records.

Any artists that decide to tackle Trane’s later work deserve praise, not just for the fact that it is Trane’s music we are talking about here, but also, and more importantly, Trane’s late works were and still are a layered, mysterious gift to us all.  Not enough writings will suffice to describe how vital his music is, and this year, fifty years after his passing, we receive Baptiste’s rendition in the shape of ten powerful tracks, some composed by Baptiste and some Trane originals, “re-imagined” by him. 

Trane’s late period is marked by seminal works like Crescent, Meditations and even Interstellar Space, a personal favourite of mine.   

So what makes The Late Trane a different album?  

Well, firstly let’s realize the wondrous line up: Denys Baptiste, on tenor and soprano saxophone, Nikki Yeoh on piano and keys, Neil Charles on bass and Rod Youngs on drums.  When I saw this line-up I realised how incredibly lucky we are;  then I spotted two other names that one cannot but admire and revere - Gary Crosby on bass and Steve Williamson, a hero of mine, on tenor saxophone.  

What more could a jazz writer want? More, I hear you say?  I say you, dear writer, would be greedy, but I accept the challenge.

Let’s pick on tracks like Neptune or Astral Trane.  The first one is a deep, melodious trip into the dark. I loved the staccato and repetitive sax on the forefront whilst Williamson follows on creating a vortex of notes. Astral Trane is a beautiful and sinuous journey. There is an eerie side to it; to experiment is to discover, and Baptiste achieves both very well.  Both tracks are his compositions and denote a new side to him. 

From the moving After the Rain and the spiritual Ascent, this album is not just Trane, it is a demonstration on how much the great John Coltrane has influenced artists around the world.

And from Tomorrow’s Warriors to a string of awards, Baptiste IS the saxophonist par excellence and what better way to express that than with some arrangements and works that illuminate this, at times, forlorn world of ours.  

The Late Trane is a beautifully inspired album. 

 

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