Monday, February 07, 2005

John Coltrane – Selflessness (Impulse, 1965)

This is a bit of a mix and match Coltrane LP with a couple of tracks from the Newport Jazz Festival (since added to the CD release of the split disc New Thing at Newport) and the lengthy title track (since added to the CD release The Major Works of John Coltrane.) I picked this up while doing a little bit of vinyl shopping – the cover looks like somebody ran it through a lawnmower, but amazingly the vinyl was near pristine.

The live tracks are from the 1963 Newport Jazz Festival with Roy Haynes filling in for Elvin Jones and taking up the entire first side of the album is a 17 minute version of the Coltrane standard “My Favorite Things.” While this song hadn’t reached the epic 45 minute stage it would toward the end of his career, this version is still quite intense, filled with swirling soprano saxophone from the leader and forceful piano from McCoy Tyner. Also included is version of the Billy Eckstine song “I Want to Talk About You.”

The most interesting track on the album is the title track which finds the “classic” quartet in the studio augmented with some extra musicians. This is right around the period where Coltrane was starting to investigate free music and the added musicians on the track give him much more of a percussive world-music oriented groove to solo over. The addition of Pharoah Sanders to the band also added much added energy. This may not be their most accomplished piece of music but as an example of a visionary musician in a transition from one phase of his career to another, it is very interesting to listen to.

Send comments to: Tim