The album newly remastered from the original master tapes. John Coltrane assembles a 20-piece band for these three songs. There's McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman, Elvin Jones, and 16 others. It's heavy on brass, per the title, there are five french horns, for example. There are notable players like Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard, and Julian Priester in the band, but the solos are by Coltrane, Tyner, or Jones. The orchestration was done by Coltrane, Tyner, and Dolphy. The liner notes say Dolphy did a lot of it, later it came out Tyner did more (though Dolphy was no longer around to argue the point). It's not really a big band in the Duke Ellington style, but with all of the horns, it's certainly a big band.
The album ASCENSION played a profoundly important role in John Coltrane's final period. Recorded in June 1965, almost exactly two years before his death, this session marks Coltrane's final stepping off point into free jazz. The album also marks a division for Coltrane's fans, as there are some that applaud his final escape from jazz tradition while others simply couldn't follow him into the great unknown.
Recorded at two sessions in early 1967, Expression represents John Coltrane's final recording sessions just months before his death. A varied and searching record, Coltrane shares space with fellow universal travelers Pharoah Sanders, Jimmy Garrison, Rashied Ali, and wife Alice Coltrane. This band, working hard during the time leading up to Coltrane's demise, was performing in the most spiritually reaching territory Coltrane would aspire to. This is evidenced by the burning tenor/drum duet section of "Offering," perhaps the highlight of these sessions. Coltrane and Ali spiral into the far reaches here with a boundless energy that somehow remains controlled and restrained even in its rawest moments.
Recorded at several sessions in the two years prior to his death but not issued until 1972, Infinity was the subject of much controversy among Coltrane aficionados when it finally appeared. The horror on the part of Coltrane purists was directed to the posthumous string arrangements written by Alice Coltrane, his widow, which were grafted onto the performances. But however much the strings softened or unnecessarily augmented the music, it must be said that Alice Coltrane really didn't do such a bad job and the ultimate result is an unusual and oddly attractive work.
John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, really setting fire here in a classic live performance from the mid 60s – one of those very long, open-ended concert dates that was arguably even more impressive than some of Coltrane's studio album! The set was recorded in 1965, but not issued until a few years after Coltrane's death – and it's an amazing representation of the bold steps forward that Trane was taking at the time – working with Sanders in a set of very spiritual expressions that run in these out, open ways that are even different from the Coltrane sound of the year before!
Issued in 1968, more than a year after John Coltrane's death, Cosmic Music is co-credited to John and Alice Coltrane. Trane appears on only two of the four tracks here (they are also the longest): "Manifestation" and "Dr. King." They were both cut in February of 1966 at Coast Recorders in San Francisco, with the great saxophonist fronting his final quintet with Alice, Pharoah Sanders, Jimmy Garrison, Rashied Ali, and Ray Appleton adding percussion. "Manifestation" is also the first recorded instance of Sanders playing the piccolo in addition to his tenor saxophone; he takes an extended solo on the instrument. "Dr. King" was written to honor the civil rights leader during his lifetime. King's assassination occurred less than a year after the saxophonist's death.
A pure statement of being and essence – and one of John Coltrane's spiritual masterpieces from the 60s! The 1965 recording was one of Trane's most adventurous so far – as it featured just one album-length track, building up out of relatively free expressions from Coltrane in the studio – initially in the spirit of Love Supreme, but much sharper-edged and unbridled overall – as if the meditative spirit of the previous recording had unlocked a sense of freedom that refused to be tied down to simple structures! The group is great – and features Pharoah Sanders on tenor, Donald Garrett on bass clarinet, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums – plus a bit of flute and percussion from Joe Brazil. The playing is much freer than on other albums of the time, but also has some introspective spiritual moments – clearly inspired by the Love Supreme recording, but taken a shade outside as well!
One of our favorite albums ever from John Coltrane – but a record that's sometimes eclipsed by the genius of A Love Supreme! The feel here is very similar to that one – long tracks that introduce a new mode of searching, spiritual jazz for the 60s – one that's performed by a core quintet with Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones – but which also features added players on the side-long title track! "Kulu Se Mama" is a tremendously bold statement in music – one that features a bit of spiritual vocals from Juno Lewis, plus added bass clarinet from Donald Garrett, tenor from Pharoah Sanders, and drums from Frank Butler. The two other tracks – "Vigil" and "Welcome" – are performed by a quartet, but are still equally great!
Brilliant work – John Coltrane really opening up in his new spiritual mode of the 60s, hinting at the changes to come, while still keeping the modal groove of previous recordings! The record features tracks from a few different sessions from the years 1961 to 1963, but it holds together beautifully – thanks to a unified creative spirit in the music! The centerpiece of the album is the stunning track "Impressions" – performed by the quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones – but all tracks are great, and titles include "After the Rain", and "Up 'Gainst The Wall" – plus the brilliant cut "India", which features guest work by Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet!
John Coltrane's matchup with singer Johnny Hartman, although quite unexpected, works extremely well. Hartman was in prime form on the six ballads, and his versions of "Lush Life" and "My One and Only Love" have never been topped. Coltrane's playing throughout the session is beautiful, sympathetic, and still exploratory; he sticks exclusively to tenor on the date. At only half an hour, one wishes there were twice as much music, but what is here is classic, essential for all jazz collections.