John Coltrane: Interstellar Space
As one of Coltrane's final recordings this duet session with Ali is one of his most essential and unique. Not only is it the grandfather of all extended saxophone/drums duets in jazz, but it also set the standard for all that came after. Coltrane had engaged in earlier duets with Elvin Jones (see "Vigil" on Kulu Se Mama ), but in Ali he found a drummer even more willing to abandon terrestrial rhythmic boundaries and set course for uncharted space. Across these duets the saxophonist is at his most visceral exuding an overpowering confidence tempered at times with sacrosanct tenderness. Ali's interlocking pan-rhythmic patterns envelop and embrace while fervently pushing the music forward.
The synergistic rapport between the two men is in gorgeous evidence from the onset of "Mars." A brief invocation of delicate bells and the two take off like a pair of comets trailing forth incandescently twined tails. "Venus," like the deity that is it's namesake, is a creature of absolute beauty built on a melodic phrase that mollifies the ears at the same time it galvanizes them. "Jupiter" turns the tables, bursting forth in a torrential sheet of densely packed phrases. Ali's traps carve out a brawny swathe of rhythmic energy and his muscular solo that initiates "Saturn" is similarly packed with barely contained ecstatic force. Rounding out the session are two bonus tracks, both of which were included on an earlier compact disc reissue, but not on the original LP. Setting this edition apart from earlier incarnations is the superb 24-bit remastering work and several false starts that preface "Mars" (presumably aimed at Trane aficionados who must have every scrap the master committed to tape).
Much free jazz today is accorded the additional appellation "energy music"music so suffused with strength and vigor that it rejuvenates the listener through the transfer of aural victuals. If ever there were an archetypal example of "energy music" these duets between Trane and Ali are it. As if in unanimous testament to the power of these two players together piano and bass are never even remotely missed.
Track Listing: Mars; Venus; Jupiter; Saturn; Leo; Jupiter Variation.
Personnel: John Coltrane: tenor saxophone, bells; Rashied Ali: drums.
Record Label: Impulse!
Style: Modern Jazz