John Coltrane: Coltrane

The saxophonist's 1962 album containing the powerful modal theme Miles' Mode is reissued in bright green vinyl with two extra tracks

1899

This album was Coltrane’s third after signing a new contract with Impulse Records. As the first two, Africa Brass and Live At The Village Vanguard received harsh critical responses from most critics of the time it seems possible that he decided to play in a more conventional manner on the first album to feature his classic quartet. Jimmy Garrison had just replaced Reggie Workman on bass and Coltrane was, at last satisfied that he had the ideal quartet line up.

The most typical Coltrane of the time is heard on Out Of This World, a headlong 14-minute reading where his searing improvised solo is straightahead and inventive, as usual but culminating in some harsh, dissonant flourishes. Jones provides a slashing, pressing accompaniment throughout and only Tyner offers a free-flowing, melodic interlude on piano. It is, though, strong, typical Coltrane and his hard tone is heard to good, lyrical advantage. Garrison’s solid bass lines are there in the background where Trane wanted them to be, but you are always aware of his presence.

Soul Eyes is a warm, melodic ballad with a gentle, flowing solo from the leader and a similar one from Tyner. The Inch Worm is a 3/4 piece similar to My Favorite Things which had been a huge critical success for Trane two years earlier and he was no doubt looking to repeat it. This was conventional playing from Trane after the barrage of hostile reviews. Tunji and Miles’ Mode are good examples of the quartet playing blues-based pieces although the latter is a fierce excursion where he plays in similar style to the Chasin’ The Trane solo on his Vanguard live session, the one that caused all the initial invective from several prominent critics.

This release features two additional tracks that come from the same recording period. Impressions is a four-and-a-half-minute reading in which, it could be argued, he plays all he needs to complete a satisfactory track; perhaps he didn’t really need to stretch it to six and a half on a later issue. It is compact but effective here.

After awarding two stars and crude comments on the previous releases, the Downbeat critic gave this one four and a half stars, so Trane managed to please someone at last. Today, this record and the two others can be seen as important steps along the road for Coltrane as a major, innovative musician. This new release with two extra tracks is presented in bright green vinyl in a colourful jacket. Very pretty!

Discography
Out Of This World; Soul Eyes; Impressions; The Inch Worm; Tunji; Miles’ Mode; Up ’Gainst The Wall (41.28)
Coltrane (ts, ss); McCoy Tyner (p); Jimmy Garrison (b); Elvin Jones (d). New Jersey, 19 June-18 September 1962.
Waxtime In Color 950724