landmark recording excellent good average disappointing talent is for making music that is as complex as it is primal. And not affected.
Certainly, the more joyous, almost “stomp and buck” implications of pieces such as ‘Ramblin’, ‘Kaleidoscope’ or ‘T&T’, which is possibly the strangest, most lopsided spin on New Orleans marching band traditions one could hope to hear, are like dance numbers for moving terrain. The mercurial nature of Coleman’s thinking led him to reshape structures more daringly than the average musician could imagine and his conception of harmony and tempo as a kind of modelling clay rather than rigid building blocks upon which to graft layers of sound still provides an invaluable lesson for contemporary players. Alternatively, one might argue that the immense appeal of his songs is their mesh of polyrhythm with a form of polymelody so that the whole ensemble acts as a contrapuntal choir singing from different hymn sheets without falling into discord. Given the abundance of his ideas, Coleman would inevitably expand beyond his favoured quartet setting, and the Free Jazz album by the double quartet is striking for the increased sonic range provided by such as Eric Dolphy and Freddie Hubbard as well as the sheer drama of its collective whoop and holler, though the performance arguably has less appeal than the music by the smaller groups. If Coleman the high energy player is well represented there, then Coleman the lyricist, the sensitive soul, is supreme elsewhere: the opener on disc one is ‘Lonely Woman’. It can move anybody to tears. In that respect, it is blues, soul, raga, and jazz rolled into sounds that somehow stand beyond all these genres. That is something else!!! Kevin Le Gendre
John Coltrane Original Album Series Rhino/Atlantic 8122797710 5-CDs | John Coltrane (ts, ss), Tommy Flanagan/Wynton Kelly/ McCoy Tyner (p), Paul Chambers/Steve Davis (b) and Art Taylor/Jimmy Cobb/Elvin Jones (d). Rec. 4 May 1959-26 Oct 1960 A brilliant encapsulation of what was best about Trane’s Atlantic stint. What you get, complete with their individual liner-notes, are the albums Giant Steps (spring 1959 with Flanagan), Coltrane Jazz (winter 1959 with Kelly), My Favourite Things, Coltrane Plays The Blues and Coltrane’s Sound (the last three, though released over a period of three years, were all recorded within five days in autumn 1960). All these
John Coltrane are quartets, so what you don’t get is Dolphy (Olé) or Don Cherry (The AvantGarde) or Milt Jackson (Bags And Trane) – or any of the original unissued titles or alternate takes from this period, previously included in Rhino’s The Heavyweight Champion 7-CD set.
The fascinating angles on this music include Trane’s increasing loosening-up with the arrival of Elvin for the 1960 sessions, not only rhythmically but in terms of tonal distortions. Tyner’s blend of open voicings and traditional blues-oriented sounds is clearly stimulating too but, as early as Coltrane Jazz (plus the version of ‘Naima’ added to Giant Steps just before its release), Kelly already matches Trane’s playing in the current Miles Davis group. Then there’s the material, with Giant Steps being the first album consisting solely of originals, some of which Coltrane saved up till he escaped his Prestige publishing contract, with each of the seven pieces from the title-track to ‘Mr. P.C.’ being significantly different. While Coltrane Jazz incorporates three fairly obscure standards along with the originals, the three 1960 albums are a triumph of marketing – the first entirely songbook-oriented with ‘Favourite Things’ a current hit, the second entirely blues (three out of six being themeless) and the third consisting of two standards including ‘Body And Soul’, two “pure” originals and two standard-based originals (‘Satellite’ from ‘How High The Moon’ and ‘Liberia’ from ‘Night In Tunisia’). If you don’t possess or have forgotten, please obtain pronto. Brian Priestley
John Coltrane Quartet The Complete November 19, 1962 Stockholm Concerts Domino Records 891216 | John Coltrane (ts; ss), McCoy Tyner (p), Jimmy Garrison (b), and Elvin Jones (d). Rec. 1962 Jazz history in general has been constructed around a finite number of iconic recordings and in the case of John Coltrane in particular, through his work for the Impulse label. Academics and students alike pour over these recordings as if they were Grail itself. This close scrutiny, in the hope that it will unlock the secrets of his improvisatory process, is, by its very nature, selective since these recordings reflect no more than a snapshot of the artist at a given moment of his career. Thus our impressions of Coltrane at the peak in1962-3 are shaped by our perception of just a handful of Impulse! recordings. Yet as this four CD set of two concerts in Stockholm from 1962 show, Coltrane was perhaps more expansive, more creative and more dynamic than was revealed by the Impulse albums of the period. Recorded during his mid-November 1962 European tour, bootlegs of variable quality – mostly poor – have
Miles Davis 1986-1991: The Warner Years WCJ / Warner Jazz 5249878472 4-CDs | Miles Davis (t, kys), Marcus Miller (b, kys, g, bcl, ss, d), Wallace Roney, Miles Evans, Chuck Findley, Lew Soloff, Sal Marquez, Atlanta Bliss (t), Bob Berg (ts), Kenny Garrett (as, ss), Rick Margitza (ts), Eric Leeds (ts), Mike Stern, John Scoeld, Prince, Earl Klugh, Michael Landau, Jean-Paul Bourelly, Randy Hall, Zane Giles, Steve Khan, John Bigham, Billy “Spaceman” Patterson, Vernon Reid, Mark Rivett, Dan Huff, John Tropea (g), Robert Irving III, Adam Holzman, Joey DeFrancesco, Kei Akagi, Deron Johnson, Prince, George Duke, Michel Legrand, Joe Sample, Easy Mo Bee, Bernard Wright, Jeff Lorber, Dave Grusin, David Gamson, Bradford Ellis, Merv DePeyer, Alan Oldeld, Gil Goldstein, George Gruntz (kys), Jason Miles (synth prog), Foley (lead b), Angus Thomas, Benny Rietveld, Richard Patterson, Zane Giles, Abraham Laboriel, Charles Ables, Michael Burnett (b), Al Foster, Vince Wilburn Jr, Ricky Wellman, Omar Hakim, Harvey Mason, Alphonse Mouzon, Steve Ferrone, Fred Maher, Will Calhoun, Steve Williams, (d), Mino Cinelu, Steve Thornton, Marilyn Mazur, Munyungo Jackson, Erin Davis, John Bigham, Don Alias, Paulhino DaCosta, Bashiri Johnson, Steve Reid, Rudy Bird (perc), Michal Urbaniak (el vln), James Walker (t), Shirley Horn, Chaka Khan, Green Gartside, Zucchero, Easy Mo Bee, A B Money, J.R. Larry Blackmon, Tomi Jenkins, Nathan Leftenant (voc), Quincy Jones (con), Gil Evans Orchestra, George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, and others. Rec. September 1985-August 1991 Ten years ago, Warner Bros was set to release a Miles Davis boxed set, The Last Word, which chronicled the music recorded by Miles during the last six years of his life. But The Last Word – planned as a 6-CD and then a 4-CD release – never appeared, and this 5-CD set is the nearest thing yet to that abandoned project – although with some major differences in musical content. Inside this stylish package, put together by Warner Music France, are the albums Tutu, Amandla, Doo-Bop, Miles And Quincy Live at Montreux, and Live Around The World in their entirety, plus selected tracks from Dingo and Siesta. The fifth disc, “Rarities And Studio Guest Appearances,” includes Miles’ musical collaborations with Cameo, Chaka Khan, Scritti Politti, Shirley Horn, Marcus Miller and others, although two of the best collaborations – with Toto and Paolo Rustichelli – are missing.
Miles fans who already own the albums will be disappointed by the rarities content, which consists of just four studio tracks, two of which have previously appeared on the superb Warner UK originated Perfect Way 2-CD anthology – The Last Word had more than a dozen new tracks from a much wider range of sources. ‘Rubberband’ and ‘See I See’ are from the fabled Rubberband sessions, while ‘Maze’ is a 9-minute funk workout with a band that includes guitarist Mike Stern and saxophonist Bob Berg. The fourth track, ‘Digg That’ is an outtake from the Amandla period. One suspects that the lack of rarities is due to issues around clearance rights, because so much more material is available, such as: additional studio recordings (including more Rubberband tracks); 12-inch remixes (like ‘Full Nelson’ and ‘Blow’), a handful of tunes composed by Prince, plus numerous live concerts, including the memorable 1991 Paris show, which saw Miles reunited with old musical associates like, Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin and Herbie Hancock. As writer Ashley Kahn says in his liner notes, this is an overdue look at the unfairly overlooked final chapter of Miles’ music. But let’s hope it’s not the last word on Miles’ association with Warner Bros. George Cole
47 Jazzwise \\ NOVEMBER11