This second volume in Universal/Impulse's reissuing of the albums of John Coltrane contains some choice titles. For those who love the early Impulse Trane, there is certainly something here for you in the John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman collection of ballads. There's also the excellent quartet era with Live at Birdland, Crescent, and the seminal A Love Supreme, the record that changed everything ever after for him. In addition, there is the 1963 album Impressions, a compilation of sorts. There is a long quartet selection called "Up 'Gainst the Wall" (1962), a beautiful but brief "After the Rain" with drummer Roy Haynes sitting in for Elvin Jones from 1963, the title cut, and opening number "India," recorded with Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet and Reggie Workman as an additional bassist.
Here it is: eight CDs worth of John Coltrane's classic quartet, comprised of bassist Jimmy Garrison, pianist McCoy Tyner, and drummer Elvin Jones, recorded between December of 1961 and September of 1965 when the artist followed his restless vision and expanded the band before assembling an entirely new one before his death. What transpired over the course of the eight albums and supplementary material used elsewhere is nothing short of a complete transfiguration of one band into another one, from a band that followed the leader into places unknown to one that inspired him and pushed him further. All of this transpired in the span of only three years.
John Coltrane's Crescent from the spring of 1964 is an epic album, showing his meditative side that would serve as a perfect prelude to his immortal work; A Love Supreme.
Crescent Moon is a set of diversely fluid desert ambience with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences. Multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek created this massive soundscape with assistance from Brian Keane.
Alice Coltrane never had an easy time of it with critics. That she was able to pursue her rugged musical vision in the midst of controversy (many claimed she was "the Yoko Ono of the John Coltrane Quartet," in that she replaced McCoy Tyner when Trane decided to shift the focus of his band) is, in retrospect, a heroic act, though, humble as she is, she would never see it that way. This double-LP live set recorded at UCLA in 1978, reveals in total the ambitious and profound free jazz and universal musical frontiers Ms. Coltrane was able to explore in both small and larger groups.