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Coltrane goes classical at Queens College show

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Their latest album, "A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane," an interpretation of music written by and reflective of jazz idol John Coltrane, snagged the Grammy on Feb. 10 for Best Classical Crossover Album. Co-founding member of TIQ, cellist Mark Summer, said the quartet chose to pay tribute to Coltrane because of his endless passion, energy and vitality. Summer also said that he, along with the other three members of the quartet, tap into Coltrane's music for inspiration."He was the greatest saxophonist that ever lived, with the most influence. He was a fountain of inspiration," said Summer. For "A Love Supreme" the quartet illuminates the best of both classical and jazz worlds by taking the music that was originally used by Coltrane and putting it in a compositional context. They remove much of the improvisation that is found in jazz, and weave in their innovative compositions. Their string instruments imitate drums, bass, piano and horns. Summer said that the group hoped to capture Coltrane's spirituality in their tribute. "His music was his prayer to God. We wanted to convey deep, heartfelt feeling in the music the way that he did, and put our own stamp on it," he said.TIQ violinist David Balakrishnan said the secret of TIQ is that they are not classical payers interpreting Coltrane's music, but rather jazz musicians who have spent years listening to and transcribing his solos. "Each one of us has done this. So we're trying to play this in a way that we're really breathing his breath, but also incorporating these other influences that we feel," said Balakrishnan.The album's Grammy win is the second for the group. Their 2005 album "4+Four" with the Ying Quartet earned them the award for Best Classical Crossover Album that year. Before last Sunday's win, Summer spoke about their nomination."Winning the first time was a huge thrill," said Summer, who was unable to attend this year's ceremony. In regard to their nomination Summer said that it is nice to be appreciated and acknowledged after 23 years of making music. The California-based quartet was formed by Summer and Balakrishnan in 1985 while Balakrishnan was writing his master's thesis at Antioch University West. He envisioned a group that defied musical boundaries and interlaced elements of classical compositional and jazz improvisational styles. He and Summer decided to give life to this idea, so together they formed the quartet with former members violinist Darol Anger and violist Irene Sazer.Altogether TIQ has gone through 12 different members in the more than two decades they've been together, Summer and Balakrishnan remain as the only two original members. New to the quartet is 23-year-old violist Jeremy Kittel, who replaced former member Evan Price in November 2007. Kittel has put out three solo records. Topping off the quartet is Danish-born violinist Mads Tolling, who earned his bachelor's degree at Boston's acclaimed Berklee College of Music. Tolling has also released three records, each featuring his original compositions.Though this is a busy time of touring for the quartet, with some upcoming destinations including Texas, Pennsylvania, California and Canada, they still have their eyes set on recording another album. Summer said they will most likely record music from "The Divine Duke," which is their latest project - a collaboration between TIQ and renowned percussionist Stefon Harris that showcases the work of Duke Ellington. If You GoTurtle Island QuartetDate: Saturday, Feb. 23 Time: 8 p.m.Location: Lefrak Concert Hall, Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing. Cost: $22 (Seniors, students and alumni $20)For More: 718-793-8080 or kupferbergcenterarts.org for tickets; tisq.com for the group

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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