By a strange co-incidence, Benji B’s (he of 1Xtra and Need2Soul V.02 with his iPod 6-track in today’s Metro that included John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. You can’t argue with his quote either, “This is one of those records that no matter how many times I listen to it, I always hear something new”.
And you may recall, the LP A Love Supreme is always next to Dom Servini’s ‘pseudo-jazz altar’ (decks) where his worships daily (full interview HERE). Whilst these two are not the only fans of Coltrane’s masterpiece, you may ask the question why should you/anyone bother with his other albums let alone the 5 contacted in this package or the other two volumes. At one time I was the same preferring to dig deeper into his sidemen and prot?©g?©s like Pharoah Sanders (OMG what will he be doing at Bloc Weekend this year?), Albert Ayler, McCoy Tyner (like his Milestones period see HERE), Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones and his wife Alice Coltrane.
That said, I was always more Blue Note than Impulse! but as Blue Trane was not even a very good Blue Note album, I finally saw the error of my ways when I got Coltrane’s Om. OK, chanting ‘Om’ to jazz theme’s isn’t really his best either but it certainly broaden my mind and it’s an album I often go back to; probably more than A Love Supreme.
So, getting back to The Impulse! Albums (Vol. 3) that’s a specially priced 5 CD box set of original re-mastered John Coltrane albums, I can’t imagine that I’m going to have such a incredible listening experience for the rest of the year!
These five albums were released over two (count them) years! Coltrane was at a level of productivity that was/is/ever will be matched.
The live album Our Thing At Newport and two studio albums, Ascension and Meditations were all released in 1966. The Ascension features a big band that includes Sanders, the recently deceased Freddie Hubbard (RIP) and John Tchicai (who has gone of to perform even more experimental jazz in Sweden and in recent years performed with Spring Heel Jack).
Meditations is the quartet with the addition of Sanders and the title of the tracks (all Coltrane compositions) say it all, ‘Compassion’, ‘Love’, ‘Consequences’, ‘Serenity’ and longest (and best) ‘The Father And The Son And The Holy Ghost’.
Possibly best of the CDs is Kulu Se Mama from 1967 with Pharoah Sanders, McCoy Tyner, Garrison, Elvin Jones and Frank Butler on drums with the vocals by Juno Lewis who wrote the poem, ‘Kulu Se MaMa/Juno Se MaMa’. Nat Hentoff who wrote so many of the liner notes at the time say of the title track, “the performance is an absorbing, trance-like fusion of tenderness and strength…and at the end, the is a fulfilling sense of achievement”, This is Afro-jazz and Sanders and Coltrane’s show such a understanding of spirit and gives you that fulfilling sense of achievement that Nentoff refers to; as do the other all the tracks here. The quartet (with Tyner, Garrison, Jones) finishes off the CD with ‘Vigil’ and ‘Welcome’ which are no less impressive.
So whilst Coltrane was deep into his spiritual beliefs (Ascension and Meditations) as much as his African roots, the The John Coltane Quartet Plays from 1965. shows that his populist ear was just as sharp as his experimental, free-jazz, spiritual, modal jazz ears. Incredibly Mary Poppins is currently a smash hit on Broadway at a mere $121 at ticket (so I’m told, I’ve no intention of booking tickets) but only Coltrane could/will make ‘Chim Chim Cheree’ from the soundtrack sound so good as his version. And then there’s ‘Brazilia’ and ‘Nature Boy’ – I used to think George Benson’s version of this was so good but Coltrane’s the one for evermore now.
That CD ends with a track called ‘Song Of Praise’ whilst the live New Thing At Newport (packaged as a Coltrane/Archie Shepp album) is introduced by Father Norman O’Connor. Apparently on 2nd July 1965 the weather hasn’t been too good and this set was starting late into the proceedings. It’s only the opening track ‘One Down, One Up’ that features the quartet (Coltrane with Tyner, Garrison, Jones) but this was clearly introducing a New Thing of Shepp, Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Barre Philips (bass) and Joe Chambers (drums) to a ‘captive’ audience. Coltrane was already an established star of the new wave in jazz….”feel it on Impulse!”
For a little 101 on New Thing recommend checking the Soul-Jazz compilation but don’t ignore the rest of Coltrane’s body of work. Cribbing again from Nentoff’s Newport liner notes, “[Coltrane] taught – and is teaching – people to listen to beyond the expected, how to hear themselves and their time in jazz”.
So even if you’re a beat and house head like Benji B or a trendy record label boss and DJ like Dom Servini, even after 40 and more years, there is the one and only John Coltrane – now lets pray and be truly thankful.
Reviewed: John Coltrane – The Impulse! Albums (Volume 3) (Verve Music Group) Cat. No. 0602517919495 Release date: 26th January 2009 Playing time: 3hr 47m 54s
The John Coltrane Quartet Plays
Personnel: John Coltrane: tenor and soprano saxophone; McCoy Tyner: piano; Jimmy Garrison: bass; Art Davis: bass (3); Elvin Jones: drums.
1. Chim Chim Cheree
3. Nature Boy
4. Song of Praise
Personnel: John Coltrane: tenor saxophone; Marion Brown: alto saxophone; John Tchicai: alto saxophone; Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone; Freddie Hubbard: trumpet; Dewey Johnson: trumpet; McCoy Tyner: piano: Art Davis: bass; Jimmy Garrison: bass; Elvin Jones: drums.
1. Ascension (Edition 2)
2. Ascension (Edition 1).
New Thing At Newport
Personnel: John Coltrane: tenor saxophone (2); McCoy Tyner: piano (2); Jimmy Garrison: bass (2); Elvin Jones: drums (2); Archie Shepp: tenor saxophone (3-6); Bobby Hutcherson: vibraphone (3-6); Barre Phillips: bass (3-6); Joe Chambers: drums (3-6); Father Norman O’Connor: spoken word (1).
1. One Down, One Up
3. Le Matin Des Noire
5. Call Me By My Rightful Name
Kulu Se Mama
Personnel: John Coltrane: saxophone; Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone (1); McCoy Tyner: piano (1, 3); Jimmy Garrison: bass (1, 3); Donald Garrett: bass, bass clarinet (1); Elvin Jones: drums; Frank Butler drums (1); Juno Lewis: vocals and percussion (1). Tracklistings:
1. Kulu Se Mama (Juno Se Mama)
Personnel: John Coltrane: tenor saxophone, percussion; Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone, percussion; McCoy Tyner: piano; Jimmy Garrison: bass; Elvin Jones: drums; Rashied Ali: drums.
1. The Father And The Son And The Holy Ghost
Benji B – 6 track ipod selection Metro Life 26th January 2009 metro.co.uk