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Concerts, events channel Coltrane in tribute to what would've been saxophonist's 90th birthday

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Ravi Coltrane will perform at shows honoring both his father, John Coltrane, as well as his mother, Alice Coltrane, durign the Portland Jazz Festival, which kicks off Feb. 18.John Coltrane’s ideas shaped postwar music from bebop to free jazz.

“He believed in his intuitions and followed them and created music that hadn’t been created before,” says his son, Ravi Coltrane, a noted saxophonist himself. “He had no problem following his inner impressions, his inner observations.”

John Coltrane died in 1967, leaving behind music that still stirs wonder — as well as controversy — among jazz players and listeners. In honor of Coltrane’s 90th birthday, the Portland Jazz Festival features a number of concerts and events dedicated in whole or in part to Coltrane’s art.

The festival runs from Thursday, Feb. 18, through Sunday, Feb. 28, and boasts more than 100 events at a dozen different venues. Performers include Trio Subtonic on Feb. 18, the Gary Peacock Trio Feb. 19, the Bobby Torres Ensemble Feb. 20, Dianne Reeves Feb. 21, the Joe Manis Trio Feb. 22, the Nicole Glover Quartet Feb. 23, Henry Johnson, Mel Brown, Louis Pain and Renato Caranto Feb. 24, Chuck Israels Feb. 25, Reggie Workman and James Carter Feb. 26, John Stowell Feb. 27 and John Scofield and Joe Lovano Feb. 28. You can learn more at www.pdxjazz.com.

The Coltranes

Ravi Coltrane himself will play two concerts, the first at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, in the Newmark Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway. Conducted by retired Portland State University Professor Charles Gray, the concert will feature an ensemble playing along with Coltrane, pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Luques Curtis, and drummer Mark Whitfield Jr. The musicians will perform John Coltrane’s first Impulse! record “Africa/Brass,” released in 1961.

“I think when he moved to Impulse!, they wanted to get out of the gate with something special, something different than his records before,” Ravi Coltrane says of “Africa/Brass.” More “big band” than most of his father’s albums, the record featured 21 musicians, including ones playing French horns and a euphonium. Coltrane says staging this record is a balancing act between homage and improvisation.

“The biggest challenge is not to just emulate the record,” he says. “For me, that’s a goal anytime you have to cover music that has such a historical imprint on it.”

Ravi Coltrane also will pay tribute to his mother, noted pianist-harpist Alice Coltrane, who died in 2006, when he jams with saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, former John Coltrane bassist Reggie Workman, pianist Geri Allen, drummer Andrew Cyrille and harpist Brandee Younger, at the “Universal Consciousness” concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Newmark.

The concert is named after Alice Coltrane’s critically acclaimed 1971 record of the same name, as well as a series of concerts Ravi put together in her honor after producing and playing with her on her final album, 2004’s “Translinear Light.” Meanwhile, Sanders has played with Sun Ra and John Coltrane, among others, and Ravi Coltrane says this concert will feature some pieces by his mother never performed live.

“She was a very, very unique and creative human being unlike anyone else that I can describe,” Ravi says, noting his parents were united in sound and spirit. “I think that they were compatible in that regard — they found in each other an introspective, calm, soulful, spiritual person.”Dan Balmer  helps represent the local scene in the Portland Jazz Festival, Feb. 18-28.

Show after show

There are several concerts jazz fans should consider seeing during the 11-day festival, but here’s a few to consider in the first week:

Thursday, Feb. 18

Spanish Harlem Orchestra, 7 p.m., Newmark Theatre

For well over a decade, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra has been playing “hardcore” salsa music. A group of 13 members including both vocalists and instrumentalists, they have won two Grammys, including Best Salsa/Merengue Album and Best Tropical Latin Album.

Sonny Fortune, 7 and 9:30 p.m., Jimmy Mak’s, 221 N.W. 10th Ave.

Fortune plays saxophone, clarinet and flute and has shared his talents with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Nat Adderley and Oliver Jones and has released multiple albums as a leader. This occasion includes guest soloist Azar Lawrence, who played with Fortune as well as the late great drummer Elvin Jones.

Friday, Feb. 19

Saxophonist Charles Lloyd appears with his quartet Feb. 19 at the Portland Jazz Festival.Charles Lloyd Quartet, 7 p.m., Newmark Theatre

Saxophonist Lloyd has played with Cannonball Adderley, Ornette Coleman, Billy Higgins, and Charlie Haden and was the musical director of Chico Hamilton’s group. He also formed a quartet featuring Keith Jarrett, and Jack DeJohnette, and has been named a 2015 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. He’ll be playing this show with a rhythm section featuring Thelonious Monk Competition winner Gerald Clayton, Joe Sanders and Eric Harland.

Halie Loren Quartet, 11 p.m.-1 a.m., Art Bar, 1111 S.W. Broadway St.

Haile Loren has made her mark in the singer-songwriter and jazz worlds, earning awards for her jazz and country music in addition to her inspirational pieces.

Saturday, Feb. 20

Grasshoppers, 7:30-9:30 p.m., The Old Church, 1422 S.W. 11th Ave.

The Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble hosts a concert by student composers and their mentors. The Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra performs an opening set, followed by a brief panel discussion with the students and mentors.

Sunday, Feb. 21

Dianne Reeves, 7:30 p.m., Newmark Theatre

Reeves has won a Grammy for Best Vocal Jazz Performance for three consecutive recordings and is the first to do this in any vocal category. She’s performed with Wynton Marsalis, a number of symphonies, and has become the first creative chair for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Her album, “Beautiful Life,” was the latest to win a Grammy.COURTESY PHOTO: PORTLAND JAZZ FESTIVAL - Dianne Reeves won three consecutive Grammys in Best Vocal Jazz Performance, and she'll be a featured guest at the Portland Jazz Festival, performing 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Newmark Theatre.

Coltrane & Cannonball Revisited, 7-10 p.m., Al’s Den, 303 S.W. 12th Ave.

This free show features Tom Pereira on tenor saxophone, David Valdez on alto saxophone, Alan Jones on drums and Chris Higgins on bass.

Monday, Feb. 22

David Goldblatt, 7 p.m., Classic Pianos, 3003 S.E. Milwaukie Ave.

David Goldblatt plays solo piano for this show, and has worked with such artists as Tribal Tech, Gino Vannelli, Ernie Watts, Stanley Clarke, Dizzy Gillespie, Diana Ross and Wayne Shorter. His compositions and arrangements have been featured on films and TV shows, and he was the composer and bandleader on “The Dennis Miller Show.”