Tuesday, October 13, 2009

John Coltrane - Side Steps, Disc Two (Concord, 2009)

Disc Two of this collection of tenor saxophone great John Coltrane’s appearances as a sideman for the Prestige label in the late 1950’s begins with the famous “Tenor Madness” collaboration with another great of the tenor, Sonny Rollins. While this may have been billed as a showdown, it is really a good natured conversation between friends and mutual admirers. Stretching out over eleven minutes, the two trade phrases and weave and elaborate a continually interesting improvisation. The remaining tracks on this disc were recorded under the leadership of pianist and composer Mal Waldron, who was an influential but neglected figure in jazz. Coltrane plays on the entire album Mal-2 and two tracks from the LP The Dealers. “Potpourri” is a very nice uptempo swinger with nice sharp sounding solos from Jackie McLean and Coltrane. “J.M.’s Dream Doll” was dedicated to McLean and is taken at a gentle ballad tempo. “Don’t Explain” starts in a slow probing fashion with an air of sadness to it. Bill Hardman’s trumpet slowly increases the pace, before giving way to Coltrane’s lush and well controlled solo. “Blue Calypso” is a fun performance that takes a page from the Sonny Rollins playbook to excellent effect. Art Taylor is very good here on drums and percussion setting the subtle island groove. Bill Hardman’s trumpet launches “Falling in Love With Love” nicely and the rest of the group follows suit with a fine round of solos. Idrees Sulieman on trumpet and Coltrane contribute hard edged solos to a taught version of the standard “The Way You Look Tonight” and “From This Moment On” comes hard out of the gate with Coltrane then taking the mantle on a furious solo. “One By One” wraps up the disc with a nice mid-tempo bluesy feel. Although this collection focuses on Coltrane it serves another function as well, Mal Waldron deserves more attention than he received during his lifetime. Hopefully the tracks featured here with Coltrane will draw some attention and a much needed re assessment of his work.
Side Steps - amazon.com

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