This CD reissues what was arguably the finest of the John Coltrane-Pharoah Sanders collaborations.
This Impulse recording features the fiery tenor Archie Shepp with his regularly working group of the period. (Scott Yanow)
This is a major set, "new" music from John Coltrane that was recorded February 15, 1967, (five months before his death) but not released for the first time until 1995. One of several "lost" sessions that were stored by Alice Coltrane for decades, only one selection ("Offering" which was on Expression) among the eight numbers and three alternates was ever out before. The music, although well worth releasing, offers no real hints as to what Coltrane might have been playing had he lived into the 1970s.
The soulful folk songs–past, present and future–which make up THE COMPLETE AFRICA/BRASS SESSIONS are a celebration of freedom: the freedom to create on a higher plane, the freedom he felt in playing with his new quartet. In a sense, THE COMPLETE AFRICA/BRASS SESSIONS are a celebration of McCoy Tyner's contribution to the group. Tyner's distinctive block voicings, and his method of modulating in fourths were a major part of the quartet's sound. Reed innovator Eric Dolphy (who joined Coltrane's Quartet later in 1961) took melodic ideas and chords from Coltrane and Tyner, and developed brass-reed orchestrations that echoed the characteristic Tyner sound, and the quartet's mode of interaction. Cal Massey's "The Damned Don't Cry" is a fascinating exception, as Dolphy allows individual voices to glisten against the dusky shadow of ten brass.
It may have been relatively late in Jimmy Rushing's career when he recorded two albums for ABC/BluesWay (Every Day I Have the Blues and Livin' the Blues, both of which are reissued in full on this single CD), but he was still in prime singing voice. Joined by such friends as trombonist Dickie Wells, trumpeter Clark Terry, and tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate, Rushing shows that he was still relevant on such blues-based songs as "Berkeley Campus Blues," "Blues in the Dark," "I Left My Baby," "Sent for You Yesterday," and "We Remember Prez." Even with Oliver Nelson's arrangements on the first half and an electric rhythm section on the second, both Rushing and the musicians play off each other well, resulting in a swinging set.