Coltrane Schmoltrane...can he play a ballad?
I once read that a well-known music critic opined that John Coltrane might very well be jazz’s most boring genius. It cannot be disputed that Giant Steps and A Love Supreme, as well as, My Favorite Things were important pioneering affairs in the evolution of jazz. But a good deal of his late music is noise. It might be brilliant noise, but it is noise all of the same. Amid the deluge of late Coltrane material released in the past four years, there is some early Coltrane beginning to bob its head above the surface. Fantasy, Inc. honors us with the fully remastered release of John Coltrane’s Lush Life. Recorded with three groups between May 31, 1957 and January 10, 1958, Lush Life contained the first music Coltrane released as a leader and exists very much in the mainstream. This music is not Interstellar Space.
displays a John Coltrane with a beautiful tenor tone and a masterful ability to play in a tenor trio setting. Like someone in Love, "I Love You," and "Trane’s Slo Blues" are a clinic in performing without a piano as a harmony support (Sonny Rollins recorded Way Out West
merely two months previously). The centerpiece is Billy Strayhorn’s title cut, featuring a bright and earthy Donald Byrd on trumpet and Red Garland on piano. Coltrane’s improvisation is restrained and thoughtful, possessing none of the compulsion to play every note there is all at once that would be a hallmark of his later art. Lush Life
is a superb re-release with superior audio. Highly, Highly recommended.