Monday, September 22, 2014

John Coltrane - Offering: Live at Temple University (Resonance/Impulse, 2014)

Although it had been available in fragmentary bootleg form for quite a while, this restored version of John Coltrane's concert from Temple University on November 11, 1966 is a significant addition to his catalog, and a fascinating glimpse of how his music continued to move relentlessly forward to the end of his life. This concert has his late period band: Coltrane on tenor and soprano saxophones and a little flute, Pharoah Sanders on tenor saxophone and piccolo, Rashied Ali on drums and Sonny Johnson subbing for Jimmy Garrison on bass. There were also a wide range of local musicians that Coltrane invited on stage. The concert begins with "Naima" already in progress with a very strong Coltrane solo making way for a lengthy piano interlude, developing a mysterious feel before Coltrane returns with a deeply confident conclusion. The dark tone and haunting melody of "Crescent" is cast aside as Pharoah Sanders begins to solo on tenor saxophone. His sound is very raw and guttural as he grapples for leverage in the music, screaming with pure emotion. After a section of piano and excellent percussion, Coltrane returns, sounding stoic but developing his expression further and further out, embracing the extra percussion before returning full circle to the melody and concluding the piece. "Leo" was a staple of this band's repertoire and this version begins with a choppy and urgent sound. Pharoah Sanders develops anguished cries of gritty and passionate sound before Coltrane moves to flute, then back to tenor saxophone full of potency. "Offering" is a quieter, hymn-like short piece of section that develops into a bass feature and then finally the melody for the finale, "My Favorite Things." Coltrane's soprano saxophone here is as evocative and beautiful as ever. He graciously allows a local musician to take a solo before returning getting very deep into the music as Sanders supports him on piccolo. Coltrane's epic stream of consciousness solo takes the music to it's conclusion and garners rapturous and well-deserved applause. This was an excellent and fascinating concert, well worth checking out for fans of Coltrane's later period music or free-jazz in general. Offering: Live At Temple University -

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