A string quartet that plays jazz? How about a Grammy Award-winning string quartet that plays jazz? VOA's Doug Levine fills us in on the Turtle Island Quartet, whose latest album pays tribute to jazz legend John Coltrane.
The Turtle Island Quartet is not only well-versed in jazz improvisation, but is equally skilled in Latin music, bluegrass, rock, funk, and European and Indian classical music.
But it's the Quartet's mighty musical jazz forces that come together on their unique tribute to saxophonist and composer John Coltrane. It's no surprise to hear the group tackle the music of the influential jazzman.
As co-founder and violinist David Balakrishnan remarks, "All of us were transcribing Coltrane solos when we were teenagers." That was long before David teamed up with cellist Mark Summer to form the Turtle Island String Quartet more than twenty years ago.
With Evan Price on violin and Mads Tolling on viola, the group has shortened its name to theTurtle Island Quartet for their latest album, A Love Supreme: The Legacy Of John Coltrane.
John Coltrane came into his own in the mid-1950s with a group referred to as "The First Great Quintet," led by trumpeter Miles Davis. Coltrane performed on and off with Miles until 1960, appearing on the classic track "So What" from the Davis' best-selling album Kind Of Blue.
It would be interesting to hear what Miles and "Trane" would have to say about the Turtle Island Quartet's update of "So What," recorded almost 50 years after the original.
Coltrane's "Classic Quartet" is considered his most-famous group, and A Love Supreme and My Favorite Things among his most-famous recordings. The Turtle Island Quartet's interpretation of these and other tracks on A Love Supreme: The Legacy Of John Coltrane is a fitting tribute to Trane's enduring musical impact.