Sonny Fortune is one of the best jazz saxophonists playing these days, but he tends to be overshadowed by his work with other leaders, notably McCoy Tyner, Buddy Rich, Miles Davis (his underrated mid-70s band), Elvin Jones and Lebanese jazz oud player Rabin Abou-Khalil. Though Fortune's playing (alto is his main ax, he's also swell on tenor and flute) is usually superb, his solo albums have either been too "mainstream" to get & keep the notice of the David Murray/John Zorn crowd or have been well-intentioned but unmemorable attempts to fuse hard bop/modal styles with pop/funk.
Now THIS is the Stuff, The Real Deal, the album that could/should propel Sonny Fortune to New Heights, etc., he's a Contender, a Major Player...if this were a fair & just world. Most folks'll just stick to that able reactionary Wynton Marsalis, the E-Z Listening Quiet Storm stuff, the self-indulgence of the squawk-&-doodle free improv-scene or the latest Suit-Suckers with their warmed-over Re-Bop. However, that shouldn't stop you from getting Fortune's latest, a tribute to the John Coltrane. Instead of "paying tribute" the "usual" way - covering the Tribute-tee's best-known songs, Fortune & company deliver a bracing set of mostly originals inspired by the seminal early 1960s works of John Coltrane. Along for the ride are the punchy and lyrical piano of John Hicks, the rock-steady yet buoyant bass of Santi Debriano and the Elvin Jones-inspired thunder & lightning drums of Ronnie Burrage. Fortune WAILS like a man repossessed, playing with warmth, restless yet focused passion and a fluid sense of melody that channels the sound, the cry of the Trane sound of 1960-1964 while not sounding like Trane.
There's some notable Guest Shots, fellow travelers of Coltrane's: Rashied Ali (drums) and Reggie Workman (bass). Fortune's playing reflects both the mellow and agitated sides of John Coltrane's music: dig the inspired, cathartic skronk of "For John" - though nobody sacrifices swing and drive, or forgets they're part of a band. In the Spirit of John Coltrane is damn fine jazz, highly recommended to virtually ANYone who digs the mod Coltrane or post-Trane continuum.