Besides "Giant Steps," the songs that every Coltrane fan, er fanatic, has probably committed to memory note-for-note are the three presented here, "Naima," "My Favorite Things" and the four-part suite "A Love Supreme." It is as if those sounds had existed even before John Coltrane penned them. Forgive the hyperbole, but listeners of the great man's music, even newcomers, undoubtedly recognize the treasure these are. Proof certain were the audiences' requests for Coltrane and his quartet of pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones to perform the music. Tapes of the quartet's early '60's tours contain multiple versions of "Naima" and "My Favorite Things." The two compositions were vehicles for the members to explore, improvise upon, and expand. Coltrane never seemed to exhaust the possibilities of these two compositions.
But what of the suite "A Love Supreme," recorded in December of 1964? Coltrane hardly ever performed it live. Besides the unearthed A Love Supreme: Live In Seattle (Impulse!, 2021) from October of 1965, this performance in Antibes from the same year is the only other live recording. If Coltrane's quartet had performed in symphony halls instead of clubs and festivals, we might have heard more performances of this suite.
Selected by label chief Werner X. Uehlinger, these tracks are his favorite live recordings from the Coltrane oeuvre. It is hard to disagree with his choices. "Naima" and "My Favorite Things" are taken from the quartet's 1963 European tour. The Berlin concert has excellent sound, and the remastering an exceptional balance of instrumentation. "A Love Supreme" from Antibes Juan-les-Pins on the France Riviera, in July 1965, remains the superior live version, expanding the studio's 35-minute suite to over 47 minutes. The lengthy "Pursuance" has an extended duo between Coltrane and Jones before two solos, first Jones followed by Garrison's epic explorations. This music is sustenance for the soul.
Naima; My Favorite Things; A Love Supreme (Acknowledgement, Resolution, Pursuance, Psalm).