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While Spirit Fiction, which was released last month, features the same quartet that Coltrane has played with over the last decade, some of the cuts are with the quintet from 2000's From the Round Box, which features trumpeter Ralph Alessi, pianist Geri Allen, bassist James Genus and drummer Eric Harland.
"The two groups had an interesting contrast to each other, kind of an interesting balance between this working band who's been working together for close to ten years and doing a lot of these freer, spontaneous kind of listening pieces," Coltrane says. "There's a great benefit to playing in a band with the same guys for ten years," he adds, "that type of listening when you know what the next guy is going to play at every moment, every beat. And we're all listening with that in mind. That can be its own direction."
After Coltrane produced the quartet sessions, he brought on Joe Lovano — part of the Saxophone Summit that includes Coltrane and Dave Liebman — to produce the quintet sessions of Spirit Fiction. "He understands the time and the momentum needed to have a successful day at the studio," says Coltrane. "I was doing the quartet recording earlier in the year, in February, and I went right from one of those quartet sessions to a Sax Summit session. They were literally back to back in the same studio. The energy of the sessions I was producing — I always have a billion things that I'm trying to do. More than half don't work, and you're running around and losing your mind and stuff."
Lovano, whom Coltrane has known since the late '80s, helped him find his way and made everything move like clockwork. "They get in there," Coltrane says, "they get what they need and they get out."
And they got us Spirit Fiction.