Guitarist Pat Metheny once said that he didn't often play standards because he felt like he couldn't offer much along the way of a unique interpretation. This paralyzing sensation in the face of prodigious precedent is equally as debilitating when it comes to delivering fresh insights on the music of saxophonist John Coltrane.
After listening to this Rudy Van Gelder remastering of 1957's Traneing In
nothing fresh needs to be said. Reviews and insights are chock full of painstakingly refined thoughts intended to open the listener's ears and, perhaps, even augment an appreciation of the musician's effort. That John Coltrane has indelibly tattooed the American musical tradition with his work is not just true, it's true prima facie
So perhaps the best this review can do is to offer a few brief opinions in the hope that they will pique the interest of the neophytes, encourage them to listen to the album and then forget everything and revel in what is as close to consummate saxophone work as there is.
For those who find Trane's work exceedingly garrulous and toe-stepping, just listen to the first track, on which pianist Red Garland opens the album with a swinging solo broadcast over the thumping of Paul Chamber's bass and the click-clack-splash of Arthur Taylor's drum kit.
From Bird licks to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, this album hails from an era of quotes and musical ideas not haphazard nor'easters of notes. And since beauty stands most strikingly in a wardrobe of imperfection, the occasional sloppy transitions from solo to solo dress this group in its magnificent musicality.
Historically, Trane seems to be most often cast in the mold of an ingenious soloist, bombarding the listener with "Giant Steps -esque shimmering. But Traneing In
manages to do a splendid job of evincing his oft-underappreciated aptitude for transitioning between ballad, bop, and blues.
"You Leave Me Breathless is reminiscent of Trane's beautifully rendered "I'm Old Fashioned. Other album highlights include "Slow Dance, an even gentler ballad than "You Leave Me Breathless ; "Bass Blues, a solid commission in jazz blues; and "Soft Lights and Sweet Music, the album's most blitzing cut.
Without reservation, this album is worth a listen.