John Coltrane: Live in '60, '61 & '65

Jim Santella By

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John Coltrane
Live in '60, '61 & '65
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Filmed in black & white for television, these three European sessions, featuring saxophonist John Coltrane in his prime as leader, run approximately 30 minutes each. One of the most seminal improvisers in jazz, he's represented well here with powerful sound and clear videography.

In Düsseldorf, West Germany, Coltrane delivers five tracks with pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, including a medley of "Autumn Leaves, What's New and "Moonlight in Vermont. Stan Getz and Oscar Peterson join the quartet briefly, turning the session into a jam. Coltrane's tenor stings like a bumblebee.

In Baden-Baden, West Germany, the saxophonist delivers three songs with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Elvin Jones. Eric Dolphy sits in on flute for "My Favorite Things and on alto for "Impressions." Switching to soprano for two of the numbers, Coltrane stays with tenor on "Impressions which, with the addition of Dolphy's fiery alto, turns out as the most exciting of the three.

At Comblain-La-Tour, Belgium, Coltrane interprets three pieces in the early spring of 1965 with pianist Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones. His fierce saxophone voice continues to climb ever higher on the chart of wow. (If I remember correctly, this is about the time that I and my close friends started using the term awesome.) Coltrane is now playing like a man on a mission. On "Vigil, he drives with tenor fury, urging his sidemen to greater extremes. The large, outdoor, nighttime audience seems entranced. It's April in Belgium: band and audience are outside watching every breath turn into a vapor cloud; the steam is rising off Jones' body; and the music keeps getting hotter. "Naima gets a heartfelt delivery on tenor, then "My Favorite Things closes the show with a rollicking soprano saxophone statement that scores. Coltrane and his classic quartet deliver as expected.

Tracks: On Green Dolphin Street; Walkin'; The Theme; Autumn Leaves/What's New/Moonlight in Vermont; Hackensack; My Favorite Things; Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye; Impressions; Vigil; Naima; My Favorite Things.

Personnel: John Coltrane: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Wynton Kelly: piano (1-5); Paul Chambers: bass (1-5); Jimmy Cobb: drums (1-5); McCoy Tyner: piano (6-11); Reggie Workman: bass (6-8); Elvin Jones: drums (6-11); Jimmy Garrison: bass (9-11); Oscar Peterson: piano (5); Stan Getz: tenor saxophone (4-5); Eric Dolphy: alto saxophone & flute (6-8).

Production Notes: 95 minutes. Recorded March 28, 1960 in Düsseldorf, Germany; December 4, 1961 in Baden-Baden, Germany; and April 1, 1965 in Comblain-La-Tour, Belgium. Extras: rare photographs, memorabilia collage.

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