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Coltrane

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Album Review

A recording many consider his finest single album, and rightly so, John Coltrane displays all of the exciting elements that sparked brilliance and allowed his fully formed instrumental voice to shine through in the most illuminating manner. On tenor saxophone he's simply masterful, offering the burgeoning sheets of sound philosophy only he perfected into endless weavings of melodic and tuneful displays of inventive, thoughtful, driven phrases. Coltrane plays a bit of soprano saxophone as a primer for his more exploratory work to follow. Remember this is 1962, at a time when he was rethinking his style vis a vis the work he did influenced by Ornette Coleman, and only five years prior to his passing. Of course bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Elvin Jones, and especially the stellar McCoy Tyner have integrated their passionate dynamics into the inner whole of the quartet. The result is a most focused effort, a relatively popular session to both his fans or latecomers, and five selections where it is difficult to nit-pick because they are so brilliantly conceived and rendered. "Out of This World," at over 14 minutes in modal trim, is a powerful statement, stretched over Tyner's marvelous and deft chords, the churning rhythms conjured by Jones, and the vocal style Coltrane utilizes as he circles the wagons on this classic melody, including a nifty key change. "Tunji" is a mysterious, easily rendered piece in 4/4 which speaks to the spiritual path Coltrane tred, a bit riled up at times while Tyner remains serene. Hard bop is still in the back of their collective minds during "Miles' Mode," a sliver of a melody that jumps into jam mode in a free-for-all blowing session, while the converse is to be found in Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes," the quintessential ballad and impressive here for the way Coltrane's holds notes, emotion, and expressive intellectuality. On soprano you can tell Coltrane is close to taking complete control of his newly found voicings, as a playful, jaunty "The Inch Worm" in 3/4 time is only slightly strained but in which he finds complete communion with the others. Even more than any platitudes one can heap on this extraordinary recording, it historically falls between the albums Olé Coltrane and Impressions — completing a triad of studio efforts that are as definitive as anything Coltrane ever produced, and highly representative of him in his prime. [A bonus CD version was also released.] ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: 23 September 1926 in Hamlet, NC

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s

Despite a relatively brief career (he first came to notice as a sideman at age 29 in 1955, formally launched a solo career at 33 in 1960, and was dead at 40 in 1967), saxophonist John Coltrane was among the most important, and most controversial, figures in jazz. It seems amazing that his period of greatest activity was so short, not only because he recorded prolifically, but also because, taking advantage of his fame, the record companies that recorded him as a sideman in the 1950s frequently reissued...
Full bio