By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
The Jazz at the Bistro's Spotlight Series continues this weekend with what promises to be one of the most intriguing combinations of jazz musicians to ever perform at the Backstage Bistro. The quartet features drummer Tony Reedus, guitarist John Abercrombie, sax player Ravi Coltrane and bassist John Patitucci. Memphis-born Reedus -- probably the least familiar member of the quartet to casual jazz fans -- has become one of the most respected drummers on the New York City scene. And, yes, Ravi Coltrane is the son of tenor-sax legend John Coltrane. Despite the burden of musical comparisons jazz fans inevitably make between him and his revered father, Ravi has managed to find his own voice on the tenor sax and build a promising career on his own. Abercrombie has earned a reputation as one of the most inventive guitarists in jazz and has released a fine string of recordings on the ECM label over the past three decades.
But the best-known musician in Frontiers is bass player John Patitucci, who spent almost a decade working regularly with keyboard player Chick Corea in Corea's Akoustic and Elektric bands. Even though he's released seven recordings of his own that feature everything from Brazilian and African-influenced music, and he's adept at playing both standup and six-string electric bass, Patitucci still finds himself typecast as a "jazz fusion" player because of his tenure with Corea.
"When I moved back to New York from the West Coast about four years ago," says Patitucci, "a lot of the guys on the New York scene still had a stereotype of me as that bass player who did all that fusion music with Chick. It was really kind of ironic. Out in LA, I had been working with musicians like Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and even Stan Getz before I joined Chick."
Discussing Frontiers, Patitucci talks enthusiastically about the band's approach: "Tony's definitely trying to do something a little different with this band. There's a real openness in the music, and it gives all of us a chance to really move in a lot of directions. And working with John (Abercrombie) is great -- he's such an interesting musician."