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John Coltrane: Lush Life

David Rickert By

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Coltrane’s records for Atlantic and Impulse are such towering landmarks that now his work for Prestige is all but ignored. However, there are many excellent albums in the Prestige catalog, and Lush Life, recently reissued in 20-bit, is as good a place as any to start exploring the early days of Trane. The brooding cover doesn’t quite do the music justice, for this is a fairly up-tempo, spirited affair capturing a gifted improviser who was just beginning to stretch out into new directions. The first three tracks features Coltrane without a pianist, and if he sounds a bit hesitant, it’s only because it wasn’t a planned exercise (Red Garland failed to show up for the recording session). Nevertheless, these are interesting, awkward experiments considering what Coltrane was able to accomplish in a few short years without a pianist, especially at the Village Vanguard sessions. The remaining tracks are fairly straightforward versions of standards, with “Lush Life” being the true highlight of the album. Coltrane shows a melodic sense not always evident during this time period, and guest Donald Byrd also delivers a beautiful solo as well. Since Lush Life spans three separate sessions in two years, there’s a little lack of continuity and the rhythm section sometimes seems unable to hone into what Coltrane was up to. Nevertheless, the record documents Coltrane’s rapid growth over a short period of time while also showcasing how great a talent Coltrane was, even at this early stage.

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Track Listing: Like Someone In Love; I Love You; Trane's Slow BLues; Lush Life; I Hear A Rhapsody.

Personnel: John Coltrane-tenor sax; Earl May-bass (1-3); Arthur Taylor-drums (1-3); Donald Byrd-trumpet (4); Red Garland-piano(4-5); Paul Chambers-bass (4-5); Louis Hayes-drums (4); Albert "Tootie" Heath-drums (5).

Title: Lush Life | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz


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