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Cattin' With Coltrane and Quinichette

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Album Review

John Coltrane (tenor sax) and Paul Quinichette (tenor sax) join forces for four out of the six selections on Cattin' with Coltrane and Quinichette (1958). Mal Waldron (piano) steps into his role as bandleader, pianist and primary composer alongside Julian Euell (bass) and Ed Thigpen (drums). This personnel is featured on all but the final track — a cover of "Tea for Two," which was recorded several years earlier — by Quinichette with Kenny Drew (piano), Freddie Green (guitar), Gene Ramsey (bass), and Gus Johnson (drums). Waldron's title track, "Cattin'," commences the album with the song's author melodically forming lines before landing into Coltrane's series of clean, compact, 12-bar blues runs. Once Quinichette takes over, the song adapts an exceedingly soulful and bluesy dialogue. While each co-lead offers something unique, their common ground during the opening and closing choruses foreshadow the treats to come. "Sunday" is one such delight and quickly evolves into a quintessential gathering place for the saxophonist's distinctly different approaches. Quinichette's discreet sound provides a response or reaction to Coltrane's energetic excursions. Particularly potent are the examples of 'Trane's seminal "sheets of sound" during his second solo. "Exactly Like You" is one of two numbers without Coltrane. While his perspective is conspicuously absent, it gives Quinichette an opportunity to fly his own flag with minimal yet effective metronomic assertions via the rhythm section. Coltrane's second attempt at "Anatomy" is as appealing as his first, which occurred the previous year in an all-star lineup under the direction of Waldron himself. Perhaps in deference to his associate, Coltrane remains self-restrained within his sonic explorations. On the surface that might seem disingenuous, however plenty of space remains for Quinichette's tuneful style and a few similarly strong contributions from Waldron. Taking a practically 180-degree approach is "Vodka" as the opportunity presents itself for blissfully beautiful unison performances by Quinichette and Coltrane. They seamlessly trade off and counterbalance as if they were natural stylistic foils for one another, leaving one to wish there had been more to enjoy.


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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