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Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane (Remastered)

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Album Review

For his final Prestige-related session as a sideman, John Coltrane (tenor sax) and Kenny Burrell (guitar) are supported by an all-star cast of Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums), and Tommy Flanagan (piano). This short but sweet gathering cut their teeth on two Flanagancompositions, another two lifted from the Great American Songbook, and a Kenny Burrell original. Flanagan's tunes open and close the album, with the spirited "Freight Trane" getting the platter underway. While not one of Coltrane's most assured performances, he chases the groove right into the hands of Burrell. The guitarist spins sonic gold and seems to inspire similar contributions from Chambers' bowed bass and Coltrane alike. Especially as the participants pass fours (read: four bars) between them at the song's conclusion. The Gus Kahn/Ted Fio Rito standard "I Never Knew" frolics beneath Burrell's nimble fretwork. Once he passes the reigns to Coltrane, the differences in their styles are more readily apparent, with Burrell organically emerging while Coltrane sounds comparatively farther out structurally. Much of the same can likewise be associated to Burrell's own "Lyresto," with the two co-leads gracefully trading and incorporating spontaneous ideas. While not as pronounced, the disparity in the way the performance is approached is a study in unifying and complementary contrasts. The delicate "Why Was I Born" is one for the ages as Burrell and Coltrane are captured in a once-in-a-lifetime duet. Together they weave an uncanny and revealing sonic tapestry that captures a pure and focused intimacy. This, thanks in part to the complete restraint of the ensemble, who take the proverbial "pause for the cause" and sit out. What remains is the best argument for the meeting of these two jazz giants. The performance can likewise be located on the various-artists Original Jazz Classics: The Prestige Sampler (1988) and Playboy Jazz After Dark (2002) and is worth checking out, regardless of where one might find it. In many ways the showpiece of the project is Flanagan's nearly quarter-hour "Big Paul." The pianist's lengthy intro establishes a laid-back bop-centric melody with his trademark stylish keyboards perfectly balancing Chambers and Cobb's rock-solid timekeeping. Coltrane's restraint is palpable as he traverses and examines his options with insightful double-time flurries that assert themselves then retreat into the larger extent of his solo. Those interested in charting the saxophonist's progression should make specific note of his work here. [Universal Japan reissued the album in 2008.]

Customer Reviews

Good, but unspectacular, Hard Bop

While the first three songs are workmanlike, good but unspectacular Hard Bop, the ensemble seems to gain confidence with each subsequent track, leading up to the final two cuts which are really the highlight of the set overall: the terrific but all too short ballad "Why Was I Born?", which features just Burrell and Coltrane playing off of each other in a duet minus the rest of the band, and the lengthy, spectacular closing track "Big Paul", which is really where the rhythm section finally lays down the perfect groove the band needs to crackle and spark as they pass solo after solo between each other, culminating in a final act that makes the whole album worthwhile in the process.

Biography

Born: July 31, 1931 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the leading exponents of straight-ahead jazz guitar, Kenny Burrell is a highly influential artist whose understated and melodic style, grounded in bebop and blues, made him in an in-demand sideman from the mid-'50s onward and a standard by which many jazz guitarists gauge themselves to this day. Born in Detroit in 1931, Burrell grew up in a musical family in which his mother played piano and sang in the Second Baptist Church choir and his father favored the banjo and ukulele. Burrell began...
Full Bio
Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane (Remastered), Kenny Burrell
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  • $8.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Hard Bop
  • Released: May 1963

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