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Live Trane: The European Tours

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Album Review

The seven-CD set Live Trane expands upon Pablo's earlier CDs of John Coltrane recorded during his European tours between 1961 and 1963, including all of The Paris Concert, Bye Bye Blackbird, The European Tour, and Afro Blue Impressions, and supplementing them with extra songs from most of these concerts. Of the 37 tracks, 19 have not previously appeared commercially (except on a number of European bootleg labels with sound ranging from barely acceptable to horrendous), and a 1961 Hamburg concert with Eric Dolphy makes its debut here. A number of titles are repeated throughout the set — six takes of "My Favorite Things" and five versions of both "Impressions" and "Mr. P.C.," along with four takes of "Naima" — but true Coltrane fans will marvel at the differences between them from one concert to the next. Coltrane plays at a consistently high level throughout each performance, whether delivering a blistering tenor sax solo on "Blue Train" or sharing his lush side with the tender ballad "Naima." Naturally, the highlights are the numerous versions of "My Favorite Things," featuring Coltrane's adventurous work on soprano sax. But these live versions have an even greater energy than the landmark studio recording, particularly those with the addition of Dolphy on flute. Coltrane rarely ventures away from the mic during his furious solos, and pianist McCoy Tyner and bassist Jimmy Garrison are frequently barely audible during many of the performances, obviously due to the often cavernous venues that didn't necessarily lend themselves to making records, yet the sound is greatly improved over earlier issues of this material. Elvin Jones' powerful drumming serves as a catalyst throughout the entire set. Coltrane and his musicians are clearly inspired by the enthusiastic audiences who witnessed the making of this music. This is an essential set for Coltrane fans.


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...
Full Bio

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