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Miles Davis / John Coltrane: Live at the Washateria


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Miles Davis / John Coltrane: Live at the Washateria
Urban legend has it that in 1957 Miles Davis charged up to a frightened woman at the Washateria Laundromat on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 25th Street. He bellowed, "How long does this (expletive) dryer take to dry a pair of socks?" Before the terrified patron could answer, Davis spied John Coltrane in row two, washing his reeds on the delicate cycle. In another corner, Cannonball Adderley was growing impatient with a set of fitted sheets on the folding table. This fortuitous conclave of jazz greats, thought Davis, needed to be celebrated. After decades in the catacombs of Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Purgatory Records has rescued and remastered the original tapes now released as Live at the Washateria.

Live at the Washateria is a unique album that presents a mixed but limited assortment of sounds and ideas. Despite its chaotic nature, it should be appreciated by that part of the jazz community that cannot bring itself to listen to anything recorded post-1960. The impromptu session did not include drummer Philly Joe Jones who, unfortunately, had done his laundry just one night before. However, the large capacity dryer supplies a compelling rhythmic thumping sound. Bassist Paul Chambers was a firm believer in dry cleaning and, therefore, was absent from the session as well.

The structure of the Washateria Laundromat is a large part of this project's success. It was the oldest laundromat in the U.S. and was designed to mimic a grandiose Parisian monument. Its 200-foot ceiling and stone columns bounced sound elegantly from one surface to another, filling the entire space and lingering in the air like pungent fabric softener. The music was spontaneous; Davis gave Coltrane and Adderley only a few basic harmonic sequences. Coltrane's signature piece, "My Favorite Things," at thirty-five minutes, is augmented by the high-speed rotation of the washers, removing dirt and stains more effectively than OxiClean and providing musical accompaniment through looped machine vibrations. Keeping with the theme, Davis and Coltrane execute a play on words as they reimagine "Blue Train" as "Blue Stain."

Live at the Washateria has the distinction of becoming the 300th archival album from Davis and Coltrane, but undoubtedly, there will be more. It will never end. Historian and musicologist Whitney Bullocks disputes the origin story's underpinnings. He pointed out the well-known fact that Davis stopped wearing socks in 1947. Nevertheless, the music is epic, warm, and overflowing with intelligence and suds.

Track Listing

My Favorite Things; Blue Stain.


Additional Instrumentation

GE GFW850SPNRS 5.0-Cubic-Foot Smart Front Load Steam Washer: rhythm section

Album information

Title: Live at the Washateria | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Purgatory Records

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