1000 JAZZ ALBUMS YOU REALLY OUGHT TO HEAR – 0005 : JOHN COLTRANE – COLTRANE “LIVE” AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD

Impulse

1962 (CD)

  • John Coltrane — soprano saxophone on “Spiritual” and “Softly As In Morning Sunrise”; tenor saxophone on “Spiritual” and “Chasin’ the Trane”
  • Eric Dolphy — bass clarinet on “Spiritual”
  • McCoy Tyner — piano on side one
  • Reggie Workman — bass on side one
  • Jimmy Garrison — bass on side two
  • Elvin Jones — drums

Subsequently re-emerging  as part of a mammoth box set of Coltrane’s four night residency at the famous New York Club this one really split the critical crowd when it was released. In hindsight Coltrane’s explorations, over lengthy tunes, seem relatively benign in comparison with what was to follow, not only  from the man himself, but also a whole sub-genre of avant-garde and free improvisation which may well have been prompted by these music endeavors. The critical response at the time was extremely negative in parts, which perhaps says more about the music writing establishment of the early 60s than it does about ‘Trane.

Three performances were selected for this initial release from the four nights of recordings.  The standard, by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II “Softly as in Morning Sunrise”, plus a second entitled “Spiritual”, possibly an adaptation of the traditional “Nobody Knows de Trouble I See”. The third selection, the sixteen minute trio blues “Chasin’ the Trane”, has been described as one of the most important recordings in jazz combining  free jazz, jamming, and neoclassicism.

In it’s own right this release stands out as one of the most refreshing jazz recordings of all time. Even over 50 years later it still has the capacity to shock the listener. When put in the context of all of four nights it becomes a fascinating exploration of a musician looking for new avenues of expression. Coltrane indicates that he was following the lead of Sun Ra horn player John Gilmore when developing this music and its worth while tracking down contemporary material from Gilmore to hear the comparison.

An essential listen for anyone who wants to understand the impact of Coltrane on the world of jazz.

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