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Various Atists: Early Trane: The John Coltrane Songbook (2008)

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Various Atists: Early Trane: The John Coltrane Songbook How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

There's no shortage of Coltrane tributes out there, but HighNote's Early Trane is a worthwhile addition for the exceptionally high quality of the artists involved and for its focus on Coltrane compositions written in the early stage of his solo career between 1957-62.

This was a period that produced such landmarks as "Giant Steps," "Naima" and "Impressions," all expertly covered here, respectively, by the veteran reedmen Carlos Garnett, David "Fathead" Newman and the late bebop virtuoso Frank Morgan. The powerhouse alto player Arthur Blythe and his bass-less quartet, with Bob Stewart's tuba holding down the bottom, make a strong statement on "Cousin Mary" while drummer Billy Hart's group hints at the shape of jazz to come on "Moment's Notice" with a taste of free improv from young tenor titan Mark Turner. Also of note are some more obscure tunes in the Coltrane book, including the tender "After the Rain," given an exquisite treatment by pianist Mike LeDonne, and "Up Against the Wall," a fairly straight blues performed here by guitarist Larry Coryell and his fine quartet.

It's been 41 years now since John Coltrane died just a few months shy of his 41st birthday. But as this rewarding compilation, or a visit to most any jazz club on any given night, makes clear, Coltrane's legacy remains vital and his music remains alive.

Track Listing: Cousin Mary; Like Sonny; Impressions; After the Rain; Straight Street; Moments Notice; Equinox; Up Against the Wall; Naima; Giant Steps.

Personnel: Arthur Blythe: alto sax; Larry Coryell: guitar; Frank Morgan: alto sax; Mike LeDonne: piano; Vincent Herring: alto sax; Billy Hart: drums; David Newman: tenor sax; Carlos Garnett: tenor sax.

Record Label: HighNote Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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