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John Coltrane Quartet: Song Of Praise: New York 1965 Revisited

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John Coltrane Quartet: Song Of Praise: New York 1965 Revisited
There are a handful of live performances which, preserved on recordings, have acquired overarching importance in the jazz canon. Charlie Parker's one-night-only appearance at Toronto's Massey Hall in 1953, John Coltrane's weeklong residency at New York's Village Vanguard in 1961 and Miles Davis' at Chicago's Plugged Nickel in 1965 are amongst the longest established.

A relatively recent addition is one of Coltrane's gigs at New York's Half Note which, though it happened in March 1965, was not readily available on disc until 2005, when Impulse released the 2 x CD One Down, One Up: Live At The Half Note. It may have taken four decades to make it beyond low-fi tape copies passed between collectors, but—largely on the strength of the track "One Down, One Up"—Coltrane at the Half Note achieved an overground profile akin to his Village Vanguard recordings within just a few months.

"One Down, One Up," an evolution of the Village Vanguard's emblematic "Chasin' The Trane," is a kick out the jams twenty-seven minute duet between Coltrane, on tenor saxophone, and his drummer Elvin Jones. Decades later it continues to inspire other high-flying duets, notably including those of the British tenor saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd on live albums such as Journey To The Mountain Of Forever (2017) and Alive In The East? (2018), both on Gearbox. But for invention, interaction and sheer excitement, nothing—nothing—has topped "One Down, One Up." While we wait for that to happen, the good news is that in March 2022, the Impulse album has been reissued as Song Of Praise: New York 1965 Revisited, part of Swiss label ezz-thetics' Revisited series. There is a revised track running order and—this is the important thing—massively improved sound courtesy of ezz-thetics' mastering jedi Michael Brandli.

In a New York Times interview in 1984, Alice Coltrane talked about the cathartic impact of Coltrane's late-period performances, of which these Half Note appearances mark a beginning point. "Someone in the audience would stand up, their arms upreaching, and they would be like that for an hour or more," said Coltrane. "Their clothing would be soaked with perspiration, and when they finally sat down, they practically fell down. The music just took people out of the whole material world; it lifted them up." In 2004, Archie Shepp, talking specifically about the 1965 Half Note gigs he attended, said: "It was like being in a church. I mean, Coltrane brought something which raised this music from secular music to a religious world music."

While the Impulse pressing took us partway back to that March 1965 night, with the ezz-thetics update you are as good as in the room without the tobacco smoke.

SEQUENCING POSTSCRIPT. The 2005 Impulse album is sequenced chronologically. CD1 comprises two tracks recorded on March 26 in performance order ("One Down, One Up," "Afro-Blue"), CD2 comprises two tracks from a May 6 gig in performance order ("Song Of Praise," "My Favorite Things.") The new ezz-thetics edition shuffles the running order so that "One Down, One Up" becomes the album's closer. (By omitting radio deejay Alan Grant's announcements and trimming the crowd applause, ezz-thetics have been able to fit all four tracks on to one CD without compromising audio quality).

Ezz-thetics' rationale for dechronologicalising the running order—"We have re-sequenced these tracks to allow the listener to become part of the development of the music and to follow John Coltrane's evolutions"—may be hard to follow, but it makes perfect sense artistically. "One Down, One Up" is a performance of such amplitude that no other track can follow it in short order. There is no other place to sequence it but at the end of the disc. The new running order is also consistent with Coltrane and his producer Bob Thiele's practice with Coltrane's albums during his lifetime, in which they strived to assemble a programme with a start, a middle and an end. Thiele continued the practice when programming Coltrane's posthumous releases. The time elapsed between the two Half Note performances is any case only six weeks.

Track Listing

Song of Praise; My Favorite Things; Afro Blue; One Down, One Up.

Personnel

John Coltrane
saxophone
Jimmy Garrison
bass, acoustic
Additional Instrumentation

John Coltrane: tenor saxophone (1, 4), soprano saxophone (2, 3).

Album information

Title: Song Of Praise: New York 1965 Revisited | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Ezz-thetics


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