Ravi Coltrane is the son of saxophonist John Coltrane and jazz pianist Alice Coltrane. He is also a cousin of experimental music producer Steven Ellison, aka Flying Lotus. He was raised in Los Angeles, California, and was named after sitar player Ravi Shankar. Coltrane was not yet two years old in 1967 when his father passed.
He is a 1983 graduate of El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, California. In 1986, he studied music, focusing on the saxophone at the California Institute of the Arts. He has worked extensively with M-Base guru Steve Coleman, a significant influence on Coltrane's own musical conception. Ravi Coltrane has played with Geri Allen, Kenny Barron, McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Stanley Clarke, Branford Marsalis and others.
In 1997, after performing on over thirty recordings as a sideman, Coltrane recorded his first album as leader Moving Pictures, working with drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, bassist Lonnie Plaxico and pianist Michael Cain. This led to extensive touring with his working band, featuring Andy Milne on piano, drummer Steve Hass, and bassist Lonnie Plaxico. Coltrane's second disc, From the Round Box (2000), was recorded with pianist Geri Allen, trumpeter Ralph Alessi, bassist James Genus, and drummer Eric Harland. Mad 6 (2002), Coltrane's first release for Sony music, featured drummer Steve Hass, pianist George Colligan, and bassist James Genus. In Flux (2005) included bassist Drew Gress, pianist Luis Perdomo, and drummer E.J. Strickland.
In January 2005, Coltrane performed in India for the first time as part of a delegation of American jazz musicians sent on a State Department tour to promote HIV/AIDS awareness. Also participating were vocalist Al Jarreau, guitarist Earl Klugh, and pianist George Duke. Performances included a January 16 concert in Mumbai (Bombay), a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. in Delhi on January 17, and a music festival in Delhi on January 18 organized by violinist L. Subramaniam. Also on January 18, Coltrane performed at the Coltrane Shankar Centre, where Coltrane met with the man he was named after. Picking up a clarinet to engage in an unplanned jam session with a pair of shehnai players, Coltrane said, "I'm a little nervous with the master here."
The Coltrane Quartet played at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2001 and 2013, the Montreux Jazz Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival in 2004, and the Vienne Jazz Festival in 2005.
In 2008, Coltrane became part of the Blue Note 7, a septet formed that year in honor of the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records. The group recorded an album in 2008, entitled Mosaic, which was released in 2009 on Blue Note Records/EMI, and toured the United States in promotion of the album from January until April 2009. The group plays the music of Blue Note Records from various artists, with arrangements by members of the band and Renee Rosnes.
1998: Moving Pictures (RCA Records)
2000: From the Round Box (RCA Records)
2002: Mad 6 (Sony Music)
2005: In Flux (Savoy Jazz)
2009: Blending Times (Savoy Jazz)
2012: Spirit Fiction (Blue Note)
1992: Sax Storm (Evidence Music), with Grand Central
1993: The Chase (Evidence Music), with Grand Central
1995: Tenor Enclave: A Tribute to Hank Mobley (Evidence Music), with Grand Central
2008: Seraphic Light (Telarc), with Saxophone Summit
2009: Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records (Blue Note Records/EMI), with The Blue Note 7
2016: In Movement (ECM Records), with Jack DeJohnette and Matthew Garrison