Monday, February 14, 2011

John Coltrane - Kind of Coltrane (Brilliant Jazz, 2007)

I was scoping out the Princeton Record Exchange a few weeks ago, dismayed at the lack of music (much of the floor space is given over to DVDs now) and looking for anything to buy when I spied a number of these boxed sets for several different jazz artists including Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Art Blakey and Stan Getz. They appear to me a mix of bootleg material, radio airshots and studio material that has fallen out of copyright in Europe. The Coltrane set is a mixed bag of material, with no liner notes and only vaguest information available. The diligent may be about to use David Wild's extensive Coltrane discography to performing a little sleuthing and get a better idea of the contents. The sound quality of the music was pretty poor, since the majority of the contents are made up of bootleg concerts of a certain vintage, but that doesn't mean the music itself is without value. Two discs recorded at the Half Note in 1963 have made the rounds many times but still make for compelling listening. An excerpt from the "A Love Supreme" on a later disc features a scalding saxophone solo, and the concert of Coltrane with Miles Davis in London 1960 shows the dramatic contrast in styles that the two musicians were evolving. Two discs of excellent studio hard bop originally led by the trumpeter Wilbur Harden are quite interesting. Recorded just after Coltrane's cleansing of narcotics and his spiritual awakening, it shows the saxophonist lean and lucid. Harden is a revelation too, I was previously unfamiliar with his playing. There's a lengthy essay by Loren Shoenberg about this music here. Overall, there is some very interesting and worthwhile music in this package, but the packaging and session information leave a lot to be desired. For the devoted Coltrane fan, however, the budget price may make it appealing. Kind of Coltrane - amazon.com

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