Michelle Coltrane, “Moment’s Notice,” from Awakening
Michelle Coltrane descends from jazz royalty, the only daughter of harpist/keyboardist Alice Coltrane and the stepdaughter of saxophone legend John. Yet despite her esteemed pedigree, she was a relative late-comer to jazz performance, working first as the manager of a dance company before taking up the mantle of a full-time singer in her adulthood. (She released her debut album in her mid-30s.) We should be glad she made the leap.
Michelle is a vocalist of uncommon grace and precision, with a penchant for unspooling lyrics in long, luxurious phrases that blur the contours of rhythm and time. “Moment’s Notice,” a track penned by her stepfather in 1957, is the cornerstone of her new album, Awakening, and it’s a prime example of Michelle’s gift for rhythmic acuity. “Love can come at a moment’s notice/My heart is open to take a chance and see,” she sings, and the lyrics practically hover between beats. Elsewhere, she flashes considerable vocal prowess, scatting in tight unison with a tumbling, angular piano solo. Her clean, logical rhythms hold steadfast despite the solo’s dizzying intricacy and skittering momentum — a trait that must surely run in the family.