8

John Coltrane: Afro Blue Impressions

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
John Coltrane

Afro Blue Impressions

OJC

1963/2013

When considering the panoply of music living beneath the banner of Concord Music Group, there should be no problem understanding the company's reissue policy, which has been curious. Any wrinkles in such logic smooth out when anniversaries are celebrated. Concord recently acknowledged what is the first of several remastered groups of recordings celebrating Riverside Records 60th anniversary with the copious release of remastered albums of Julian Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's 1959 Things Are Getting Better, guitarist Wes Montgomery's So Much Guitar, trumpeter Chet Baker's Chet Baker Plays The Best Of Lerner & Loewe (OJC/Riverside, 1959/2013), baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan's Mulligan Meets Monk (OJC/Riverside, 1957/2013) and pianist Bill Evans' How My Heart Sings (OJC/Riverside, 1962/2013).

Concord has slated a similar release schedule for the 40th Anniversary of Norman Granz's last recording endeavor, Pablo Records. In addition to straight remasters, Concord has brought together live recordings previously parceled out over several albums onto a single more cogent and representative release. The first of these is a double anniversary celebration when saxophonist John Coltrane's Afro Blue Impressions turns 50, as Pablo reaches 40 years old.

Originally released as a two-LP set, Afro Blue Impressions contained nine live performances recorded in Berlin in November, 1962 and Stockholm in October, 1963, recorded with his classic quartet featuring pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones. The newly remastered compilation contains an additional three performances from the Stockholm concert ("Naima," "I Want To Talk About You" and "My Favorite Things") that were previously released on The European Tour (Pablo, 1980) and Live Trane: The European Tours (Pablo, 2001).

How Granz came into possession of these Coltrane tapes at a time when the saxophonist was committed to Impulse! Records is a bit of a question. Granz recorded and released on Pablo mostly acts that he personally managed. His Pablo imprint did not start releases until 1973, a full decade after these Coltrane sides were recorded. The material comprising the Coltrane Pablo corpus were recorded between Duke Ellington and John Coltrane (Impulse!, 1962) and John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (Impulse!, 1962) and Live at Birdland (Impulse!, 1962). While a mystery, the pedigree of these recordings is beside the point as they capture Coltrane approaching his 1964 zenith with A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965) and his probing recordings beyond.

The state of John Coltrane in 1962-63 was one of expansive harmonic growth. Like Miles Davis before him, Coltrane clung to his classic quartet's book, exploring and re-exploring "My Favorite Things," "Naima," "I Want to Talk About You," and "Impressions." Coltrane was still melodically directed at the time of these recordings, but one could already tell that he was en route toward Live at the Half Note: One Down, One Up (Impulse!, 1965/2005) and New Thing at Newport (Impulse!, 1965), where his performance fractured as he delved inward, toward the core of sound.

These performances find Coltrane at the height of his creative powers, forcing the edges of the music further and further out. We are still well before the hour-long tenor saxophone/drums duets and Coltrane's contributions to and expansion of free jazz. Two performances each of "I Want To Talk About You" and "My Favorite Things" offer a glimpse into Coltrane's creative process, where he takes these standards, consumes them and renders them into new and vital. This is the artist hitting his stride.

Tracks: CD1: Lonnie's Lament; Naima; Chasin' The Trane; My Favorite Things; Afro Blue; Cousin Mary. CD2: I Want to Talk About You; Spiritual; Impressions; Naima; I Want to Talk About You; My Favorite Things.

Personnel: John Coltrane: tenor and soprano saxophones; McCoy Tyner: piano; Jimmy Garrison: bass; Elvin Jones: drums.

Shop

More Articles

Read Oscar Peterson & Stephane Grappelli: Skol Reassessing Oscar Peterson & Stephane Grappelli: Skol
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 10, 2013
Read Dizzy Gillespie: Dizzy’s Big 4 Reassessing Dizzy Gillespie: Dizzy’s Big 4
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 26, 2013
Read Art Tatum: Solo Masterpieces, Volume One Reassessing Art Tatum: Solo Masterpieces, Volume One
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 24, 2013
Read Zoot Sims And The Gershwin Brothers Reassessing Zoot Sims And The Gershwin Brothers
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 23, 2013
Read John Coltrane: Afro Blue Impressions Reassessing John Coltrane: Afro Blue Impressions
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 29, 2013
Read "Big Star: Complete Third" Extended Analysis Big Star: Complete Third
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2016
Read "Peacemaker Music & Arts Fest 2016" Live Reviews Peacemaker Music & Arts Fest 2016
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "Quinsin Nachoff's Flux at Constellation" Live Reviews Quinsin Nachoff's Flux at Constellation
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "Lewis Porter on John Coltrane" Interviews Lewis Porter on John Coltrane
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: September 23, 2016
Read "London Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews London Jazz Festival 2016
by Duncan Heining
Published: November 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!