Thursday, November 13, 2008

The John Coltrane Quartet Plays (Impulse, 1965, 1997)

Saxophonist and composer John Coltrane's "classic" quartet with McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums was reaching the end of its life on this wonderful transitional album. The original Impulse album had two cover songs, "Chim Chim Cheree" with it's sing-song melody on soprano saxophone, along with the standard "Nature Boy" both mix melodic performances and progressive improvisation trying to catch lightning in a bottle like the ever popular "My Favorite Things." The original LP also contained two original compositions, the extraordinarily intense "Brazilia" with its intense modal to free improvisation, and the deeply spiritual and bass led "Song of Praise." Included on the 1997 compact disc version are two more versions of "Nature Boy" one in the studio and one live and both featuring bassist Art Davis adding some more bottom. The song "Feeling Good" is also included, but is relatively tame and seems to be filler more than anything else. This album still fascinates because it shows the ever-questing Coltrane bursting through the constrictions of bop-based jazz and into the freer realms where he would spend the remainder of his career. The versions of "Nature Boy" provide benchmarks for that quest, as the track evolves over the course of three successive performances.
The John Coltrane Quartet Plays -

Send comments to: Tim