The Gentle Side Of John Coltrane Import
In the early '60s, John Coltrane was pressing the expressive edge of jazz, playing solos of daunting length, astonishing speed, and blistering intensity. But while his more exploratory work fueled controversy, the saxophonist had also matured into one of the finest practitioners of the jazz ballad, as great a lyric player as Ben Webster or Miles Davis and possessing a beautiful sound, a kind of unknown precious metal that remains distinctive after decades of imitation. He often included ballads in LPs of more daunting material, and he also devoted three LPs to his gentler side, Ballads and collaborations with singer Johnny Hartman and Duke Ellington. This CD compiles both Coltrane's versions of standards and a selection of his own gentler compositions, creating a series of slower-tempo masterpieces that range from the serene to the pensive. As well as highlights from those three LPs, there is also the superb rendition of Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes," a jazz standard, and Coltrane's own "Wise One," "After the Rain," and the somber "Alabama," melodies of almost unearthly beauty. The version of Billy Eckstine's "I Want to Talk About You," taken from a live recording at Birdland, possesses an unaccompanied tenor cadenza that stands as one of the most remarkable technical feats in jazz history. The version of "In a Sentimental Mood," with Ellington at the piano, is simply as beautiful as any recording ever made. So good is the selection that dedicated Coltrane fans who own the material in other forms may want to acquire it.--Stuart Broomer
The beauty of this music is overwhelming. He is backed on most cuts by the members of his classic quartet; Tyner, Jones and Garrison. The slower tempo of these tunes gives Coltrane the opportunity to get every ounce of soulfulness that can be gotten out of a tenor sax. On two tracks he is joined by vocalist Johnny Hartman. I don't normally enjoy jazz vocals but these two men were so perfectly matched that the songs where Hartman is featured are two of my favorite cuts. His voice is deep and smooth and when Coltrane follows him with a chorus I don't believe there is another instance of a human voice and an instrument blending so perfectly.(Maybe Louis and Ella) In addition Duke Ellington is included and his piano figure on In A Sentimental Mood is hauntingly beautiful.
I realize this review is sort of gushing but believe me this is a recording of such majesty that I am confident that anyone buying this will be glad they did.