The fifth and final volume in Universal's massive John Coltrane: The Impulse! Albums in the Originals series, contains five recordings, all issued posthumously between 1970 and 1973. Two of these, Transition and Sun Ship, feature Coltrane's classic quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones. Of the remaining albums, two are live recordings – Live in Seattle and Concert in Japan – the remaining one being the infamous Infinity.
Packaged together in this five-disc box set from Verve/Hip-O-Select, these titles represent the albums Impulse issued following John Coltrane's death in 1967, and remain some of the most controversial in his catalog (numerous critics thought – and many still do – that dubious choices were made in assembling them).
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.
The John Coltrane Quartet's mind expanding quality is displayed on a half-dozen trinkets with Coltrane's innovative dressing of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things," and the high-energy "Blue Trane," the glossiest. He shows a softness on "Naima," and links the jazz idiom with divine power on "Spiritual" for a musical baptismal that's excellent for impromptu meditation sessions. The six tracks, which include Billy Eckstine's much recorded "I Want to Talk About You," flows for more than 60 minutes, which is enough of 'Trane and his crews' therapeutic expressions to clear the cobwebs, tranquil nerves, and soothe the savage beast.