With the success that Blue Note has had in eliciting the services of the legendary recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder in remastering the past glories of one of the most revered record labels in all of jazz, it’s no surprise that Impulse would eventually follow suit and ask Van Gelder to do the same handiwork for releases from that label’s archives. So the story goes, producer Bob Thiele would often have Van Gelder run extra copies of Coltrane recording sessions of which Thiele later maintained possession. Just recently these tapes in their pure unadulterated form were turned over to Van Gelder to use in remastering and reexamining the contents of two Coltrane classics, Ballads and Coltrane.
Of the two sets, the additional material brought to light on Coltrane seems to be of the greatest value. Disc one preserves the original five album tracks, all of which are now rendered in fabulous 24-bit sound. “Out of This World” swings ferociously and is one of the best of Coltrane’s many extended modal jams. But then, “Tunji,” and “Miles’ Mode” also rank up there pretty highly among the all-time gems.
For the tandem disc seven previously unissued performances are heard for the very first time. “Not Yet” is a churchy amen number by Tyner that was never covered elsewhere to my knowledge and an alternate of “Miles’ Mode” speaks with just as much fire, if not more, than the original leading one to wonder how the decision for the master take was ever arrived upon. A bit more disappointing are four tries at “Tunji,” none of which command the authority of the originally released version. Rounding things out though we have two studio versions of “Impressions,” “Big Nick,” and “Up ‘Gainst the Wall.” As a buddy of mine often advises me, you’ll want to throw out your old copy and get your hands on this new one. It’s the pick of the litter.
Disc 1: Out of This World, Soul Eyes, The Inch Worm, Tunji, Miles' Mode
Disc 2: Not Yet, Miles' Mode [alternative take], Tunji [alternative take], Tunji [alternative take], Tunji [alternative take], Tunji [alternative take], Impressions, Impressions, Big Nick, Up 'Gainst the Wall
Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone), McCoy Tyner (piano), Jimmy Garrison (bass), Elvin Jones (drums)