Artist: Steve Heckman
Album: Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute
Label: Jazzed Media
Release Date: 10/07/2016
Admittedly, tribute discs, albums, downloads, streams, whatever, tend to scare me off. And a tribute to Coltrane, whose lasting innovations and overly documented musical explorations and phases just opens a huge Pandora’s Box of things that could go wrong, or sound imitative, or leave the listener feeling cheated, is very likely to happen to artists with lesser vision and ability.
But with Steve Heckman, whose deep affinity with the master goes back to his formative years, we needn’t worry. This popping disc, recorded exuberantly live at Berkeley’s historic Hillside Club in October 2013, places Heckman at the center of a like minded, hot-to-play ‘Trane quartet and the fun never lets up. Played as live, breathing pieces of music and not museum artifacts, a fiery “26-2” blows the show open and leads to high-flying modality of “Impressions,” which not only showcases Heckman’s vastly considerable chops but features pianist Grant Evans big block chords ricochetting like McCoy Tyner at his peak. “Resolution” and “Fifth House” burn likewise too. Smith Dobson V and Eric Markowitz on drums and bass respectively, drive Heckman throughout this vibrant set to honor his mentor by not only burning on the aforementioned tunes, but to reflect and meditate on the Coltrane’s deeply spiritual side with beautiful renderings of “Dear Lord” and especially “Reverend King.”
Coltrane enthusiasts of all stripes will not be disappointed in this album. Give it a listen and be surprised.
– Mike Jurkovic