• photography by © Clara Pereira / text by Filipe Freitas

Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane showed up at Le Poisson Rouge to homage his mother, the one-and-only pianist/harpist Alice Coltrane. On the bandstand with him were pianist David Virelles, guitarist Adam Rogers, harpist Brandee Younger, bassist Rashaan Carter, drummer Marcus Gilmore, and percussionist Roman Diaz. Together they are the Universal Consciousness.

The band started off with “Rama Rama” whose initial prayerful tones were reinforced by the Spanish words of Diaz, appealing to hope, truth, and conscience. Younger’s soft harp plucks felt celestial and the tune reached its peaks with coruscating improvisations by Rogers, in an effusive crescendo, and Virelles, who nailed it on the organ.

The catching groove of “Journey In Satchidananda” was brought up by Carter after a solo pelted with slides, hammer ons, and strums, and without interruptions, the minor chords of “Blue Nile” echoed to concede the bandleader the opportunity to deliver a soulful improvisation, which he did.

Encouraging reflection, “Jagadishwar” (tune that Ravi had the chance to record with Alice on the 2004 album Translinear Light) brandished easy melody over a glowing guitar, but it was the mesmerizing spiritual hymn “Turiya & Ramakrishna”, impeccably reproduced by Virelles, that reached my heart with all its celestial power. Far more exuberant were “Los Caballos”, a groovy exercise with bluesy tones and Afro-Latin beat that ended up in a highly percussive samba feast, and “Affinity”, a fusion blowout with hasty swinging runs.

Alice’s melodic meditations got a respectful, devoted treatment from Ravi and his group, and the audience responded with love.