Saturday, June 21, 2014

John Coltrane - Original Album Series (Rhino, 2013)

This was $7.99 at Barnes and Noble (they are scrapping all of their CDs) so I couldn’t pass it up even though I already own these individual discs. I should have left this set for someone else to discover the beauty of the music, but the spirit of oniomania bit me hard. This is a great reminder of John Coltrane’s wonderful Atlantic Records recordings nonetheless. Interestingly, the albums: Giant Steps, Coltrane’s Sound, Coltrane Jazz, My Favorite Things and Coltrane Plays the Blues are presented in their original LP configuration, shorn of any bonus tracks. It hardly matters, the music is simply extraordinary throughout. John Coltrane only recorded for Atlantic for a scant two years but his development as a saxophonist and a bandleader in this period was amazing. Giant Steps and My Favorite Things are his most well known albums from this period, on the former, he plays with blinding speed on the title track and the Paul Chambers dedication “Mr. P.C.” and also contributes the beautiful song “Naima” which would go on to become a jazz standard. “My Favorite Things” would go on to become a hit and a groundbreaking performance as Coltrane took his soprano saxophone and turned a Disney song into a jazz masterpiece. The other albums in the set are noteworthy as well: Coltrane’s Sound has the swinging “Central Park West” which became another standard and a beautiful version of the tenor saxophone bellwether “Body and Soul.” Coltrane Jazz has the Sonny Rollins tribute “Like Sonny” and Plays the Blues has the beautiful triptychs “Blues For Elvin”, “Blues to Bechet” and Blues to You” + “Mr Day”, “Mr. Syms” and “Mr. Knight.” All in all this is an excellent collection. There can be a few quibbles: no alternate takes and while the original liner notes are reproduced you would need an electron microscope to read them. Still, for it’s a great place for those new to jazz to be introduced to a master. Original Album Series -

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