Wednesday, October 22, 2008

John Coltrane - playing the blues 1960

The recordings here come from the same October 1960 sessions that produced My Favorite Things, and while the all-blues album is far less famous, it's an equivalent document of John Coltrane's work in his earliest recordings of the quartet with drummer Elvin Jones and pianist McCoy Tyner. The all-blues format emphasizes Coltrane's personal relationship to the form, both his emotional depth and his capacity for harmonic extension on essentially modal materials. His soprano on "Blues to Bechet" is a summoning up of the blues form's original power, also apparent in the slow and moving "Blues to Elvin." "Blues to You," played with just Jones and bassist Steve Davis, is a hot coil of sound, Coltrane's convoluted lines twisting into new shapes while he and Jones catch every possible nuance of the beat. "Mr. Knight" would later turn into "India," but it's already a floating modal figure for his tenor. This edition includes the alternate takes previously available only in the box set The Heavyweight Champion.
--Stuart Broomer

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