A loud cymbal splash from Jones, opening chords from McCoy Tyner and My Favorite Things is underway. Coltrane’s long modal improvisation on soprano sax heralded a new sound from the saxophonist and one he would continue to use from then on.
The show tune was very popular in 1960 and Trane’s jazz version suited the modern jazz fraternity very well. It was melodic, basic, extremely well decorated with improvised lines by Coltrane and Tyner and the rhythm was clear and steady all through, courtesy of Davis and Jones.
This was something new and special at the time: previous Coltrane discs had been all jazz compositions and standards with personnel from the Miles Davis quintet to support him. Favorite Things was by his own, recently formed quartet and almost his classic group. He had already tried out two drummers and found them lacking in some respect and would, shortly after this recording, replace bassist Davis with Reggie Workman. Workman went too, when Trane discovered Jimmy Garrison, who stayed literally until the end.
It is probably for the intense, power-packed reading of the title tune that this disc is played frequently by old and new Coltrane followers but there is much more to it than that. After 13 odd minutes of melodic improvisation on the popular show tune, Trane and his sidemen tackle Every Time We Say Goodbye. Coltrane, still on soprano weaves a gentle, lyrical solo and Tyner follows in the same manner.
Arguably the best jazz is heard on the following two selections, where Coltrane plays tenor, his usual instrument, and fashions intense solos that still contain elements of his sheets of sound approach from the 1950s.
The rhythm section tightens up on Summertime as Davis, and particularly Jones, push him relentlessly forward. Davis has a burgeoning bass solo here that demonstrates how good he was and how much Coltrane underrated him. But Not For Me also harks back to 50s hard bop in some respects but is played with fire and spirit by all four musicians.
Coltrane said in 1962 that the title tune was his favourite piece of everything he’d recorded so far. It was certainly unique and a good introduction to his new quartet. This deluxe edition is well mastered with good sound although I wonder if anybody really needs both the stereo and mono versions of the same music.
CD1 (mono): My Favorite Things; Every Time We Say Goodbye; Summertime; But Not For Me (39.16)
CD2 (stereo): My Favorite Things; Every Time We Say Goodbye; Summertime; But Not For Me (39.16)
Coltrane (ts, ss); McCoy Tyner (p); Steve Davis (b); Elvin Jones (d). NYC, 21, 24 & 26 October 1960.
Atlantic R2 666923