Jazz Number of Items:

Trane: The Atlantic Collection

John Coltrane LP

Trane: The Atlantic Collection (2017)

Format: LP

Code: 081227940683

LPA

  1. My Favorite Things Part I - Single Version
  2. Like Sonny
  3. Cousin Mary
  4. Giant Steps
  5. Central Park West

LPB

  1. Equinox
  2. Naima
  3. My Shining Hour
  4. Mr Syms

 

 

 

 

This album is a new and selected anthology of John Coltrane’s work for Atlantic Records recorded between 1959 and 1961. If it’s your introduction to Coltrane, you’ve come into the story at a good spot. This is where the hero makes his presence known.

Coltrane had moved gradually, as an apprentice with rigorous practicing habits and stubbornly original improvising ideas. Then he moved very quickly. Thirty-two years old when he signed a two-year contract with Atlantic, he was cutting away from the life of a sideman and assembling his first great band — the quartet with pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, and, finally, bassist Jimmy Garrison, who joined just after the point where this set leaves off.

For Coltrane, it was a time of intense study, refinement, and, perhaps, unlikely success because his music was not easy to relegate to the background. “Exuberant, furious, impassioned, thundering,” ran the headline in one of Atlantic’s first advertisements for a Coltrane record, in the February 1960 issue of Jazz Review. Critics were often the last to understand Coltrane, but perhaps only this much need be said: during these years, the critical perception of him began to change, from that of a curiosity or an irritant with a strange or “strident” or “angry” style in Miles Davis’s quintet, to a musician of patience and wisdom and bravery — finally, a kind of secular saint, a channeler of conviction and resistance, a connection to jazz’s known past and its imagined beyond.

A great deal of cultural memory lived within him. Born in 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina, Coltrane grew up in High Point, 80 miles upstate. Both of his grandfathers were ministers. He lived in a house owned by his maternal grandfather, William Wilson Blair, an extraordinary man and a personage in west central North Carolina — teacher, activist for the education of African-American children, civic leader, and reverend. Coltrane regularly saw Rev. Blair preach at St. Stephen’s A.M.E. Zion Church in High Point, and his mother sang in the choir. Before moving to Philadelphia as a teenager, these were his musical roots.

Later he played rhythm & blues and bebop as a young man in Philadelphia in the 1940s and ’50s, and on the road with Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Hodges, and others. He worked with Miles Davis for sustained periods during the second half of the 1950s in Davis’s impeccable first quintet, suggesting the next phase in jazz after the bebop period of Gillespie and Charlie Parker; through the second half of 1957, he worked with, and learned from, Thelonious Monk. In 1959, he played on Davis’s landmark album Kind Of Blue, a sublimely relaxed experiment in playing over minimal chord changes, within the style known as “modal” jazz. A few months later, on his own Atlantic session, Coltrane recorded “Giant Steps,” an exacting, rapid, and original etude for jazz improvisers, which represented more or less the opposite idea: a chord change on every other beat.

Coltrane was a broad thinker. From the time of this music until his death at the age of 40 in 1967, it wasn’t beside the point for him to make references through his music to Vedic chants or works for the harp by the French composer Carlos Salzedo; to think about how the golden ratio in math and architecture could be applied to composition; to write music as religious expressions; to solo for 45 minutes or conceive of an album (Ascension, from 1965, for eleven-piece band) as a single unbroken work.

The period represented by this collection encompasses “Giant Steps,” as well as Coltrane’s discovery of the soprano saxophone, which he continued to use as an alternative to the tenor; and his sudden popularity, via a strange kind of hit — a version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein song, “My Favorite Things,” first heard in the Broadway premiere of The Sound Of Music less than a year before Coltrane recorded it. (The track here is not the full-length album version, but side one of its edited 45 RPM single, as record companies in those days were still putting some jazz on 45s and marketing them to radio stations. You are hearing Coltrane as he entered popular culture.)

This anthology represents him as a musician of power — musical power, emotional power, intellectual power — and as an artist of concision. You can listen through this 46-minute collection of romantic or purposeful or slightly mysterious music — the ballad “Naima,” written for his first wife; the wise blues pieces, “Equinox” and “Mr. Syms”; the bright, swinging version of Harold Arlen’s “My Shining Hour”; “Giant Steps” and its cousin in thirds-related harmonic progression, “Central Park West” — and get it clearly: the sense of a strikingly original sound and intelligence. If you hear it as an end in itself, a flash-card of history, that’s a lot. If you hear it as an invitation, know that there is more for you: not just a sound, a set of compositions, and a musical system, but a kind of morality.

 — Ben Ratliff

Ben Ratliff is the author of Coltrane: The Story Of A Sound (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007.) A jazz critic at the New York Times from 1996 to 2016, he is a contributing editor at Esquire, and teaches at New York University.

Price: 17,99 €

John Coltrane

Hamlet NC, United States (1926 – 1967) John William Coltrane (Hamlet, North Carolina, September 23, 1926 – Huntington, New York, July 17, 1967) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. American jazz great John Coltrane emerged in the 1950s, playing tenor and soprano sax with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. A leader of “hard bop”, in the 1960s he led his own groups and changed the face of jazz with experimentation and improvisation, his later recordings reflecting his belief that music was a form of spiritual expression. Sometimes called simply ‘Trane, his recordings include Giant Steps (1959), My Favorite Things (1960), Olé (1961) and A Love Supreme (1964). In his later recordings he collaborated on avante-garde music with his wife, Alice Coltrane (b. Alice McLeod, 1937-2007), who had a career in her own right. The band sometimes called Coltrane’s “classic quartet” of the early 1960s included McCoy Tyner (piano), Elvin Jones (drums) and Jimmy Garrison (bass). Despite a relatively ...

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