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- Steve Kuhn Trio w/ Joe Lovano: Steve Kuhn Trio with Joe Lovano: Mostly Coltrane
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Unlike pretty much any other Coltrane release, this album is an epic, eye-opening listen whether you're a transcription-obsessed jazz student, a neophyte who thinks most jazz is overly abstract and diffuse, or anyone in between.
The CD release is even better, with interesting alternate takes of five of the seven songs. But at this point the group didn't sound that great, and interestingly it's not the two who were soon replaced Steve Davis and Pete La Roca who are the culprits, but Tyner and Trane: The half-hour opener "Liberia" is the best illustration of how far they had to go, as Coltrane's lengthy solo only connects in spots mostly in the modal B section while Tyner's approach is so tentative and twee I had to triple-check it was really him in his defense, he was 21 at the time.
The set list is almost all material he would record in the studio several months later, including three of the four songs that would appear on My Favorite Things everything except the title tune. Percy Heath replaces Coleman's regular bassist Charlie Haden on three of the tunes. There's also one Cherry original and a Monk tune "Bemsha Swing".
It is noteworthy, though, that even as he built his reputation in mainstream jazz, Coltrane was already open to alternative approaches - sometimes people act like Trane was bitten by a radioactive Albert Ayler in and went straight off the deep end, but it's just not so. DBW My Favorite Things Coltrane made several major contributions to jazz theory and practice even before forming his classic quartet, and every one of them is present on this disc, recorded during three marathon sessions in October Historical concerns aside, this transformation of a simple kitschy tune - almost a nursery rhyme - into a searching, kinetic powerhouse made Coltrane's reputation and remained one of his most requested songs for the rest of his career.
At the same time he was working with fewer chords than anyone else, he was also working with more chords than anyone else, pioneering a complex system of chord subsitutions "Coltrane changes" which he applies to Gershwin's "But Not For Me. Day" to the wild "Blues To Bechet," played on soprano. The CD has a bonus track that's not a blues, but is a fine if not earthshaking addition to the canon "Exotica". DBW Coltrane's Sound rec. Recorded at the same sessions as My Favorite Things , these pieces are mostly Coltrane originals and share a contemplative, introspective mood, with a lot of space created by light-touch arrangements.
Years I should say something about the "classic" quartet: McCoy Tyner has a singular tone on piano - as some other writer noted, he's one of the few pianists you can identify from the first note - intense but not bombastic, introspective but not calm, more likely to play clustered chords than high melodic runs. A major influence on Eddie Palmieri among others. Elvin Jones is one of the greatest drummers you'll hear playing any type of music, constantly playing tricky breaks and fills while keeping a solid pulse; the main inspiration of Mitch Mitchell, drummer for Jimi Hendrix.
Both musicians were able to go in whatever direction Coltrane was leading and still remain uniquely themselves at least until the last years when both left the band. I'm just now developing an appreciation for Jimmy Garrison; he stays in the background, and certainly didn't revolutionize his instrument the way the other quartet members did, but listen to his solo on "Jimmy's Mode" from Stellar Regions , among others, and you'll be struck by the quality of his ideas and the virtuosity of his execution.
By the way, I know the label name is supposed to have an exclamation point after Impulse but I generally omit that because it's silly. So it's different but I don't find it very enlightening: the tunes are familiar or familiar-sounding, and some are quite long although they don't say much. The traditional "Greensleeves" is played as a modal waltz, the first of several Coltrane would add to and then drop from the repertoire, which makes me think Coltrane wasn't convinced that "My Favorite Things" was the best possible vehicle for the concept.
There have been multiple reissues - the most comprehensive is the two-disc release, with three takes of "Africa," two takes of "Greensleeves" and two additional tunes: "Song Of The Underground Railroad" and "The Damned Don't Cry. This 3-CD set finds him looking backward as well as forward: he revisits "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "Vierd Blues" from his time with Davis, "Blue Train" from the late '50s, then-unreleased material he'd cut for Atlantic "Equinox," "Liberia" and one song he hadn't yet recorded "Impressions," performed twice.
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I thought this would be an interesting comparison with Village Vanguard , assuming that Garrett played bass clarinet in the role Dolphy would soon play, but no, Garrett apparently stuck to double bass all evening. Trane came prepared with a bunch of new compostions and a bunch of guests, prominently including Dolphy on alto sax and bass clarinet. I found the original LP underwhelming - "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise" is an unexceptional ballad; "Chasin' The Trane" is a long, formless blues - apart from "Spiritual," the first of his ecstatic pieces, where he plays a strong, simple melody with fervid intensity over dramatic backing based on a single scale sometimes a single chord , with a theme that's often explicitly religious and at any rate concerned with matters eternal.
It feels like he's calling you to something, even if you don't know what, and to call this music compelling is an understatement: it makes nearly all devotional music so hollow, even as it makes nearly all secular music seem trivial. Though he never lost his ability to create rich improvisations over complex chord progressions, over the years he gravitated increasingly to this ecstatic approach. Anyway, the release of The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings has many versions of "Spiritual" as well as "India" and "Impressions" the two of which became the backbone of a future LP , and some other wonders including a version of "Naima" with Dolphy adding a lovely harmony line - that configuration merits four stars easily.
DBW Coltrane Technically this isn't the first joint appearance of all four members of the "classic quartet," because Garrison had split bass duties with Workman on the Vanguard recordings, but it is the first album to feature all four and no one else.
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Contains two strange versions of standards: a fourteen-minute "Out Of This World," where Coltrane plays around with tempo and key; and "The Inch Worm," like "Favorite Things" a masterful deconstruction of a silly tune. Also Waldron's ballad "Soul Eyes," which Trane had originally recorded in , Dolphy's "The Red Planet" retitled "Miles' Mode" - the opening theme is based on a tone row which is then reversed, creating a musical palindrome - and Coltrane's own "Tunji.
DBW Ballads A bunch of pop tunes, but rather than radically reinterpreting, Coltrane is content to play them straight, with a placid rhythm section and not much feeling. Pleasant background music at best; Coltrane was a masterful ballad player but it's hard to detect that here. As he so often did, Ellington whipped up a tribute to his collaborator "Take The Coltrane" , and Coltrane responded with a tribute to Big Nick Nicholas "Big Nick," the only tune he plays on soprano.
There are four takes of "Impressions" not unlike the studio takes , a brief stab at "Nature Boy" and an improvised slow blues, but the really interesting stuff is three new Coltrane originals. Because it's been so long since we've heard a new quartet album, this set is getting outsized acclaim: there's great stuff here but if you only know Giant Steps , Favorite Things and Love Supreme , don't make this your next stop. However, they're basically Hartman's backing band, and while his vocal control is impressive "Lush Life" , his crooning is so sappy that it comes across as camp. DBW Impressions rec.
The title tune, based on the " So What " chord changes, was a staple of Coltrane's performances from through and has become a jazz standard, though this recording doesn't do much for me personally; "India" is a fun modal piece, and the two studio recordings are a blast: the solemn "After The Rain" with Roy Haynes on drums; the livelier "Up 'Gainst The Wall. About a month after this, the rhythm section got together with three horns and recorded an album, Illumination!
On the original LP "Alabama" like "Your Lady," a studio recording appears to have an odd recursive structure, but in fact an outtake that breaks down in the middle was accidentally prepended to the master take. The outtake has a brief solo but the master is through-composed, the first such in Trane's catalog.
So it paved the way for the climactic fourth movement of "Love Supreme," and the grief expressed for the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing is palpable, though by the same token it's a tough listen. Despite lots of repetition - six versions of "Favorite Things," five each of "Impressions" and "Mr.
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Do check Dave Wild's page for the correct recording details; the liner notes are full of mistakes. My only caution here is, if you're going to go this deep you might as well go all the way and find all the concerts from this period - for example, the 4-CD set So Many Things covers the same six-day period as the first disc in this set, but in much greater detail. DBW Crescent The first full-length quartet no guests studio recording since Ballads - believe it or not - and it's worlds away.
Recorded as Coltrane's marriage to Naima was ending: "Wise One" is apparently about her, while the title track may be related to her Islamic faith, unless I'm overreaching. And whatever the reason, the melancholy tone that had often appeared in Coltrane's music is more pronounced here, except on the exuberant, swinging "Bessie's Blues. DBW Blue World rec. Where Both Directions was Coltrane documenting new compositions he would never revisit, here he's playing a set of previously recorded tunes handpicked by director Gilles Groulx the title track is really "Out Of This World"; the other songs had first been recorded between and So it's not a major find, but it's still interesting because - unlike say, Monk - Coltrane almost never recorded new studio versions of released material, and, apart from "Naima," these songs were rarely performed live.
Personally I don't hear major differences in these versions of "Village Blues" three takes or "Blue World" - "Naima" is the most changed, with the rhythm section breaking into extended cross-rhythms. If you were already familiar with the movie, the novel cuts will be "Like Sonny" and "Traneing In" which opens with an extended Garrison solo, though not one of his better ones.
Poorly recorded; I don't recommend listening to it for entertainment, but it's fascinating if you want to study Coltrane's process, as it's the only known recording of any Love Supreme tune performed outside of that context. DBW A Love Supreme It's not easy to describe this album without running off at the mouth and sounding like a cult member. An album-length suite recorded in its entirety, tracing the course of a spiritual awakening from "Acknowledgement" through "Resolution" and "Pursuance," and finally "Psalm.
Each member of the quartet solos at one time or another, but no one's doing their own thing: all the individual contributions are serving Coltrane's overarching vision. The sole live performance of the suite, recorded in France in , circulated for years on various small labels and was eventually included on a deluxe version of this album; it's not worth the trouble, as the sound quality is poor and Coltrane was dissatisfied with his performance.
DBW The John Coltrane Quartet Plays Shortly after creating that masterpiece, Coltrane returned for the last time to the traditional originals-plus-standards album format he'd employed on records like Coltrane. Perhaps for that reason it's generally overlooked in discussions of Coltrane's work, but if you don't compare it to A Love Supreme it's quite good, with two wonderful originals, "Song Of Praise" and "Brazilia," and two radically reworked standards: "Chim Chim Cheree" from Mary Poppins and " Nature Boy.
There are just four songs here, and two of them "My Favorite Things" and "Afro Blue" are faded out mid-solo, so this isn't one for the casual fan. I'm not crazy about it either, because there are so many other recordings of those songs, and try as I may, I can't get anything much out of the title track: Trane blazes away for twenty-seven minutes as Tyner and Garrison each fall by the wayside , but I can't tell what he's getting at.
So there's just one tune here I'm really excited by: a rapturous, nineteen-minute "Song Of Praise" that has the fervor of a revival meeting and the beauty of a, well, of something beautiful. DBW At this point, Coltrane's discography becomes kind of messy: He recorded about ten albums' worth of new material between May and November of , most of which wasn't released until years later, and many of the tracks were haphazardly compiled into a variety of releases - most of which are now out of print - over the ensuing decades.
I used to recommend the The Classic Quartet box set but I no longer do, because it's missing so many alternate takes which have popped up on various recent "Deluxe Editions. Note that the recording of "All The Things You Are" this lineup recorded in has still not seen the light of day. DBW Transition rec. Two long pieces recorded on June 10 express deep spirituality and move at a measured pace: "Transition" never fails to floor me, and the minute "Suite" is nearly as powerful.
The closest you can get to A Love Supreme Volume 2 , and as with that album, these songs were rarely performed live.
DBW Feelin' Good rec. DBW Late Impulse! Period The June 28, session which produced Ascension is often viewed as the dividing line between the Classic Quartet period and the final "far out" period. It's true that the larger group, longer songs, and ecstatic feel of that date are worlds away from something like "Bessie's Blues" - firmly grounded in traditional jazz - recorded just the year before, and certainly the lineup of the band changed shortly thereafter, with avant-garde tenor Pharoah Sanders becoming a near-full time member and Tyner and Jones departing.
Really, though, the change was more gradual than that: Coltrane had added Archie Shepp and Art Davis to the quartet during the recording of A Love Supreme , though the sextet takes of "Acknowledgement" were ultimately rejected, and the Classic Quartet recorded some excellent work in the fall of with no additional players.
DBW Ascension Coltrane ventures into territory initially explored by Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman, adding six horn players including Hubbard, Sanders and Shepp and another bassist Davis to the quartet and playing one tune built on a five-note blues riff for the entire album. It's not exactly collective improvisation - ensemble passages alternate with individual solos - but it sure isn't bebop, and it shocked the jazz-buying public.
He recorded two takes on the same day, initially released take two known as "Edition I" , then changed his mind and released the first take "Edition II" - both are now available on the same CD, so don't get shortchanged. After this appearance Coltrane took the group to Europe; recordings of several of these shows have surfaced, and at nearly all of them he played a slimmed-down version of "Ascension," generally known as "Blue Valse.
Side Two is more unusual: one of the latest live recordings of the classic quartet August , featuring two songs he played all the time "My Favorite Things" and "Naima" , and one that, far as I can tell, he never played again: it's listed as "Modal Excursion" though it's unknown whether or how Coltrane titled it. Based on a very brief melodic figure, like most of the material that would appear on Sun Ship recorded later that month, it's not going to change anyone's conception of Coltrane but if you've heard the rest you'll want to hear this too.
DBW Sun Ship rec.
Steve Kuhn Trio w/ Joe Lovano: Steve Kuhn Trio with Joe Lovano: Mostly Coltrane
The results are mixed: on the title track and on the bass feature "Ascent" the group sounds unsure, as if they're grasping in the dark; on "Amen," though, everything gels, and Tyner leads the rhythm section into some stomping but oddly tense passages, before Coltrane comes back in his upper register, taking everything to a higher level. DBW First Meditations rec. On the other, it adds an element of pure psych-gone-noise maximalism. Interstellar Space Revisited was warmly received, not least by Rashied Ali himself.
The drummer would later perform duets with saxophonists Arthur Rhames and Sonny Fortune, and in the Nineties, Ali formed a fruitful partnership with saxophonist Louie Belogenis, honed in the Coltrane-and-beyond repertory project Prima Materia. Like Cline, Belogenis remembers the release of Interstellar Space as a major event.
It does some kind of therapeutic rubbing on the brain — some kind of chaotic cleanse. In recent years, the configuration has become even more common, with tandems ranging from John Zorn and Milford Graves to Ken Vandermark and Paal Nilssen-Love forming longstanding partnerships and honing their own distinctive takes on the format.
Books by John Sinclair (Author of Guitar Army)
Saxist Paul Flaherty and drummer Chris Corsano began infiltrating the American DIY scene in the early s, connecting the dots between old-school free jazz and the modern experimental underground. Ingrid Laubrock also relishes the challenges of the format. In , he recorded a trio disc with Ali. The saxophonist recalls that American jazz records would often reach him and his friends a couple of years after they came out. When Interstellar Space finally showed up, it made a serious impression.