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John Coltrane: Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album Deluxe Edition

Doug Collette By

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The fulsome clarity of the monaural sound on Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album by John Coltrane may be just the gateway necessary to entice those listeners used to a single home speakers, ear buds or their smart phones. After all, as Ashley Kahn notes in his lengthy essay, this double set of compact discs features the iconic saxophonist's classic quartet in its prime, and so deserves to be heard by musiclovers of all stripes and equipment setups, not just the audiophiles and jazz connoisseurs.

Rudy Van Gelder recorded Coltrane wielding both tenor and soprano horns as he displayed a profound sense of freedom in his instrumental interactions with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones. It's a liberation including, but not limited to, release from worry about mistakes or repetition; even with multiple takes of the same tunes, like "Impressions" (which appears here four times, once without Tyner), there's not a whit of suspicion about duplication of effort or ideas: when players of this high caliber replicate a progression of melody or rhythm, even a single note, it can be an epiphany. Little wonder saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter, an arguable genius himself, would be quoted in the enclosed booklet, talking in awed terms about the music these artists.

The music itself speaks volumes through the uncanny intuitive sense(s) the foursome share. By the time of this Bob Thiele-produced session, those well-honed collective instincts had been sharpened both in studios such as this one in New Jersey and on stages like that of Birdland's to which the band repaired immediately upon completion of the recording. Ravi Coltrane's description of his response to this afternoon interlude as "a kicking-the-tires sessions" may arise from the appearance of "Nature Boy" and "Vilia," not yet set as regular repertoire for the group, but cover material which Coltrane and company nonetheless imbue with an infectious sense of play.

Neither dilettante nor the reserved aficionado should be apprehensive Both Directions At Once contains four tracks labeled "Untitled Original." The Lost Album does manifest some movement on Coltrane's part to the more open- ended likes of Interstellar Space (Impulse, 1974), but the performances here are just sufficiently loose to allow the evolving arrangements breathe and, in turn, further nurture the quartet's musicianly camaraderie. To explain too much of how this happens somewhat demeans the product of this group's creative impulses, but that's certainly not the case with the liner notes: the aforementioned jazz scholar writes with an emphatic logic, communicating as much information as insight, into which he infuses a passion that's a direct reflection of its subject.

As edifying as it is to read that esteemed author, the sensation isn't all that dissimilar from admiring the design of the two-CD package: die-cuts, gold embossing and all are an ingenious reflection of the imagination within the music it encloses. Consequently, as precious a possession as this deluxe set will become for those who own it, the greatest delight rightfully derives from the sounds it contains.

Track Listing: CD 1: Untitled Original 11383; Nature Boy ; Untitled Original 11386 (Take 1); Vilia (Take 3); Impressions (Take 3); Slow Blues; One Up, One Down (Take 1). CD 2: Vilia (Take 5); Impressions (Take 1); Impressions (Take 2); Impressions (Take 4); Untitled Original 11386 (Take 2); Untitled Original 11386 (Take 5); One Up, One Down (Take 6).

Personnel: John Coltrane: saxophone; McCoy Tyner: piano; Jimmy Garrison: bass; Elvin Jones: drums.

Title: Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album Deluxe Edition | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Impulse!

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