Duke Ellington & John Coltrane: Duke Ellington & John Coltrane

Vinyl reissue of the well-worn cross-generation, cross-genre summit includes stereo and mono versions and extra tracks

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1962 saw the meeting of these two jazz greats, one the established figure, the other a new voice. The sleeve notes include writer Charles Fox’s misgivings about the album, identifying incompatibility and unease, and his observation that Duke usually dropped out when Coltrane soloed, but this is not necessarily the case. True, he does sit out at times, but then, pianists do.

There are some great tracks, not least In A Sentimental Mood, Duke laying down its thematic riff, enabling Coltrane to play expressively. Strayhorn’s My Little Brown Book also shows how well Coltrane could interpret a ballad, Duke shadowing him sensitively, closing with a gently lyrical passage. The Feeling Of Jazz is simply a relaxed blues. Subsequent comments from the leaders reflected their enjoyment – Duke: “No hassle, no sweat . . . I loved every minute of it” (Music Is My Mistress); Coltrane was to describe it as “a wonderful experience”.

The rhythm sections are mixed up, permutations of Aaron Bell and Sam Woodyard, from Duke’s band, and Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones from Coltrane’s. Of the drummers, Jones’ shifting patterns give a greater modernity (for example on Angelica) whilst Woodyard is more straightforward, maintaining a regular, relaxed beat. Interestingly, Woodyard does this on Stevie, which after Duke’s characteristic intro, develops in structure and in the saxophonist’s playing, as very similar to a Coltrane composition.

If so inclined, you can compare the stereo version on record 1 with the mono on record 2. It also includes extra tracks: orchestral versions of In A Sentimental Mood (previously issued on LMR CD83000) and The Feeling Of Jazz (Doctor Jazz FW40359); a Coltrane quartet version of Big Nick (from Definitive Jazz Scene, Impulse A99); it also throws in I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good, credited to the Coltrane quartet, which is the Red Garland quintet (from Soul Junction, Prestige 7181).

To contrast the full orchestral sound with pared-down simplicity? The Feeling Of Jazz to reflect different instrumentation as opposed to Coltrane taking the lion’s share? Unclear, and for this, hardly necessary you might think.

Discography
LP1: In A Sentimental Mood; Take The Coltrane; Big Nick; Stevie; In A Sentimental Mood (Ellington orchestra version); My Little Brown Book; Angelica; The Feeling Of Jazz; Big Nick (Coltrane quartet version) (41.49)
LP2: In A Sentimental Mood; Take The Coltrane; Big Nick; Stevie; I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good (Coltrane quartet version); My Little Brown Book; Angelica; The Feeling Of Jazz; The Feeling Of Jazz (Ellington orchestra version) (47.04)
Ellington (p); Coltrane (ts, ss); Jimmy Garrison (b); Aaron Bell (b); Elvin Jones (d); Sam Woodyard (d). New Jersey, 26 September 1962.
LP1 T5: Ellington orchestra. Chicago, February 1957.
LP1 T9: Coltrane quartet: Coltrane (ss) McCoy Tyner (p); Jimmy Garrison (b); Elvin Jones (d). New Jersey, 11 April 1962.
LP2 T5: Red Garland quintet: Coltrane (ts); Donald Byrd (t); Red Garland (p); Jamil Nasser (b); Art Taylor (d). New Jersey, 15 November 1957.
LP2 T9: Ellington orchestra. NY, 3 July 1962.
Waxtime 772302 (previously Impulse A/AS30)