The doctor is in

By JON GARELICK  |  October 8, 2008

The project was founded in 1997 to play a Coltrane tribute concert in Japan. They released an album in 2004, and then, in 2007, original member Michael Brecker died. Ravi Coltrane succeeded Brecker for their latest, Seraphic Light (Telarc). At the Regattabar, the line-up was otherwise the same as on the albums, with pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Cecil McBee, and drummer Billy Hart.

After a summer of touring Europe, they were stoked. Every tune built to ecstatic, testifying solos through a series of hairpin turns in the arrangements. But as good as the horn players were, it was difficult to stay focused on any individual’s statement because that totality of sound took over. When Coltrane reached a particularly stirring cadence in Randy Brecker’s “Message to Mike” — all up-and-down figures diving to a deep, cavernous low note — he sounded so good in part because of what McBee and Hart were doing with him. All night these two provided contrasting patterns that made everyone else in the band — the band as a whole — sound that much bigger. When Markowitz took off into impressionistic chromatic runs and pungent chord clusters on Coltrane the Elder’s “Seraphic Light,” McBee and Hart countered with deep-off kilter patterns, Hart’s kick drum in synch with McBee’s spare, rock-like plucking.

There were other felicities: the tenor-bass clarinet duet on Liebman’s “Alpha Omega,” Liebman’s spooky wood flute against Ravi’s tenor on Ravi’s “Thirteenth Floor,” the overlapping lines of the three tenors on “Seraphic Light” creating the illusion of a harmonium — but a really loud harmonium. For a change, here was a supergroup that was really super.

STANLEY SAGOV REMEMBERING THE FUTURE BAND | Scullers, DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Rd, Boston | October 14 at 8 pm | $15 | 617.562.4111 or

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