Recent listening, current

Thursday, March 21, 2013

58. John Coltrane / My Favorite Things (1961)

Coltrane's fluidity and eloquence with modal jazz hit a stride during these sessions, and the resulting albums (including also Coltrane Plays the Blues, Coltrane's Sound and Coltrane Legacy) are watershed recordings in the Coltrane oeuvre. And who better to support his statement of purpose than Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner? Tyner's creative inversions and voicings rain down with a lush selection of harmonic possibilities and the mystically driven Jones shuffles through several rhythms at once, giving Coltrane maximum flexibility for his improvisations. Steve Davis plays wonderful bass, sometimes suggesting a single static harmonic element while Coltrane and Tyner wrap blizzards of changing ideas around it. The music is pleasant and listenable, infused equally with strains of Eastern ragas and the blues. Coltrane's soprano sax is haunting and delicate, assertive but not an overriding presence. It's remarkable that such individualistic music comes from a set without a single original. "But Not For Me" deftly reharmonized with Coltrane changes, and his long tenor solo is one of my favorite choruses from any musician, hands down.

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