The Gift Of Coltrane

Posted by Rick Frystak, November 5, 2019 01:30pm | Post a Comment


Many has been the day when I would walk around the Amoeba store and try to figure out a gift for someone I thought or was told had everything, musically, and I would be at wits end trying to decide what would make a customer or `friend happy, which by the end of the search, would not be something I would always be proud to give. Of course, the stress of that would only make matters worse with the decision made harder! 

Without a doubt, record store employees are asked day in and day out to provide recommendations to customers of music, after a description of the gift-receiver’s taste, or a step up on a new or rare release. 
I’ve found that often times folks are delighted to receive something as a gift that they would never think to buy for themselves. Here’s where a person that lives around music all of their day can determine what might be the perfect idea for a customer searching for something new that would be the right choice.
So I’ve put together an idea for people who are harder to buy for, or folks that may not have terribly obvious musical taste. These could be new releases or new issues of music that has some special meaning to me. In any event, music that I would recommend without hesitation! John William Coltrane.
The amount of music that saxophonist John Coltrane must have recorded is staggering. Not that all of it was meant for release, but when these giants of their instruments were/are in the studio, oftentimes the recording is constantly going. The music that John Coltrane recorded is a great example: 1963: New Directions by the John Coltrane quartet, a big, five-record set with a gorgeous, heavy booklet by the same group that recorded ‘’A Love Supreme’’ and 7 other records. The complete box set, Coltrane '63, New Directions has a handful of vinyl-only of live tracks well worth the price.
Here are sessions that are not for everyone, though. The later-period ‘Trane was an explosion of ‘’free’’ jazz sheets of sound, but here it’s tamed it like wild horses. The riffs and runs are exceptional in their emotional depth and variety. Coltrane was truly experimental, and in 1963 he felt wide open in letting the feelings flow that were coming to him. He was playing what was coming through him, without choosing, without guiding them. The 1963 sessions are available in a complete box set or as a single disc.
Some of these takes were available in Japan as B-sides on CDs. These are fine remasters, crisp and articulate. If you or someone you love are a Coltrane fans, you’ll love these takes of a most interesting part of ‘Trane’s life.

 But wait. There's another Coltrane quartet album that claims o be the ''Lost Album''. It's called Both Directions At Once. That's the title of the single disc.

Another new release, one that was discovered on a shelf and meant as a film score, Blue World is not so much the enigma that the first reviews claim. To me, the microphone placement makes the instruments much clearer, and therefore much more ‘’up front’’ in the sound field, so it’s presence, if you will, so to the listener the mix seems more clear, especially the piano. McCoy's balance is mostly too loud in these takes, unless you'd like to call these a lost McCoy Tyner disc. ‘Trane’s sax is rendered as much more a part of an ensemble mix, not in the forefront enough for me. I feel that that is why these have stayed on a shelf all these years; 'Trane is simply not mixed properly (to me).  Elvin’s drums are put into the mix more into the round, rather than up front where the producer thought they could deliver the most cinematic drama. These are tracks that came out on other LPs, and those versions, released originally to the public, are far better takes. Surely made for listening without picture.
Overall, the real, released versions sound the best. In those versions, the piano is further back in the mix, giving it much more of a supporting sound rather than a soloist, or session leader’s sound.

Jimmy Garrison, throughout, is very much a sensation rather than notes that you follow. You feel him everywhere, yet the notes drive through you when you focus on them.

Can you Imagine that pickup truck cruising own the street with some wild, Coltrane pumping out the back end? I can!


Relevant Tags

Best Of 2019 (10), Mccoy Tyner (5), Elvin Jones (2), Jimmy Garrison (2), Impulse! (2), Coltrane (2), Christmas (69), John Coltrane (25), Holiday (9), Gift (1)