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The Gentle Side of John Coltrane

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Album Review

"Gentle" is a relative term, for while this collection of material is mostly pitched at a slower set of tempos and a more lyrical frame of mind, John Coltrane was no less passionate in a ballad as he was in a roaring frenzy. Originally issued on two LPs, and now as an excellent value on a single CD, The Gentle Side draws nine tracks from the legacy of the classic Coltrane quartet (with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones), adding a pair of tracks each from his collaborations with Duke Ellington and Johnny Hartman. You can say all you want about how a collection like this disregards the musical flow of the original albums — which is true — and still be caught up helplessly in the staggering emotional power of this man's playing. Even when heard in this context, performances like "After the Rain" and "Welcome" remain breathtaking in their spiritual beauty, and the combination of Coltrane's eloquence and the warm, masculine baritone of Hartman can still break your heart with their most-likely-untopped interpretation of "My One and Only Love." Above all, if you know anyone who has resisted Coltrane because of the fearsome reputation of his more agitated music, lay this CD on them. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Just the Right Dose of 'Trane for Coltrane Lovers

The review is pretty much right on all tracks. For those tiring of Coltrane's aggressiveness in improvisation, the vocals of Johnny Hartman are a soothing break, but the ideas still flow pleasantly (not as relentless). Hey, let's face it, Coltrane is an earful, not for the faint of heart. This compilation is a comfortable dose of his strength that may be relished like a fine dish as long as the listener refrains from ambivalence. "I Want to Talk About You" will always be my favorite on this album. 'Trane says it all toward the end of that cut. Hey, Coltrane doesn't joke around--he's one of the greatest tenor and soprano saxophonists that has ever lived. Enjoy.


Born: September 23, 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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