Denys Baptiste - John Coltrane tribute

DAVID WAKEFIELD Norwich Jazz Festival event at Norwich Arts Centre


> Norwich Jazz Festival event at Norwich Arts Centre

It's almost 40 years since John Coltrane died, tragically young; yet he remains a powerful influence on the face of jazz in 2005.

It's a rare saxophonist who is not, in some small measure, influenced by a man whose work spanned a definitive period in the music, from bebop through to modal influences and the avant garde.

It would be foolish to try to cover all those aspects in a tribute, and Baptiste, one of a group of superb young British saxophonists, did not try. Backed by Andrew McCormack (piano), Gary Crosby (double bass) and Rod Youngs (drums) he delivered largely what was expected - Coltrane's period with Miles Davis in the form of Bye Bye Blackbird, moving on through Giant Steps, After the Rain, and Impressions; and devoting the whole of the second half to A Love Supreme, a mighty four-part work that remains, perhaps, Coltrane's defining influence, and still a best-seller in the jazz world.

It was an exceptional performance from a player who did not attempt to copy, but put his own “spin” on influences that are clearly part of his musical make-up.

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From my point of view Baptiste's work in Giant Steps was the highlight of the evening, and this also featured a blistering solo from McCormack.

A sell-out audience clearly loved it all.

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