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The Complete Savoy Sessions

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Album Review

Wilbur Harden has been somewhat of a jazz mystery, appearing on a handful of dates and then suddenly disappearing for good after falling ill not long after the 1958 sessions featured on this reissue. After these recordings of Harden's works were issued in various forms on LP, including on some occasions with John Coltrane receiving top or sole billing, all of the music recorded by this overlooked trumpeter and flügelhornist with the legendary tenor saxophonist has finally become available in one complete two-CD set. The always dependable Tommy Flanagan is the pianist on two of the three sessions. Although Harden is a competent player, his compositions aren't particularly memorable, although they are enjoyable; the primary reason people have sought this music is to plug a gap in their John Coltrane collections. Highlights include the loping "Wells Fargo," the exotic "E.F.F.P.H.," and the strutting "Anedac," which substitutes Howard Williams for Flanagan and adds trombonist Curtis Fuller to the mix. The consistently strong playing of John Coltrane is what makes this set worth acquiring.


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...
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