My John Coltrane collection is so large I considered dividing it into 3 posts but instead I’ll list what I have & share the history of his music in my life. First the list – some are stand-alones, some are mp3 collections: w/Monk w/Monk Complete 1 2; Prestige Complete 1 2 3 4 w/Gillespie; Blue Train; w/Adderley; w/Harden; w/Davis: Kind of Blue Atlantic Complete: 1: Giant Steps/ My Favorite Things/Jazz/Bags/Ole; Atlantic Complete 2: Plays the Blues/Sound/Avant-Gard/ Odds; Impulse compete 1 Coltrane/Ballads/Hartman/Crescent/ Plays/ Ascension/ Living Space; Impulse complete 2: Stockholm/ Birdland/ Transition/ Living Space/ Sun Ship/ First Meditations; Africa Brass 1 2; Live Village vanguard 1 2 3 4: A Love Supreme Deluxe 1 2; Live at Newport; bits & pieces; Live in Japan; Blues For Coltrane. You can see why I wanted to split this into three posts.
On the east coast I bought, at the Metropolitan (I think) – a department store that had a rack of discontinued lps that was briefly filled with a raft of Impulse deletes including a double Impulse lp of Coltrane ‘hits’. It included a section of Supreme, After the Rain & now forgotten others. I also had a track of his on a Sonny Rollins best of. That was it for years, decades in fact. I enjoyed the Impulse cuts.
Then in late 90’s I mounted a production of The Servant & wanted some music for it. I heard Blue Train on the radio & loved the brass sound & bought it. Blue Train, on Blue Note, is one of the few lps Coltrane record with a brass section & it is a fine way to get into him, or jazz itself. This catapulted me into total fandom.
Over the years I’ve added nearly the complete works, his own group stuff, his sideman recordings & his work with Miles Davis. I also have some excellent biographies. I really had to know more about his creative arc – from session player, his work with Davis, his own work & the dramatic spiritual change in his later career once he escaped heroin.
The Prestige work is session work, fun pairings, various quartets & not overly challenging. With Gillespie he is part of the big band sound with a few sweet solos. He’s learning & expanding. With Monk he begins really exploring. With Davis he starts to come into his own.
He steps out into real solo with his Atlantic work & becomes more challenging. Giant Steps is superb. I love all of his releases – too many to list. Blues, Sound are classics of any jazz era. But he seems to run out of steam & when he moves to Impulse we get lps of covers of things like Favorite Things. Though his work with Ellington is amazing & I love his Johnny Hartman lps too. Africa Brass is superb. Then he gets clean, gets his teeth fixed & bam the big shift with A Love Supreme. An lp I have to play twice in a row. The Live in Antibes Supreme is magnificent.
Crescent, Meditations, Live at the Vanguard: the list is above why repeat it. The live material is wonderful & exhaustive & often challenging in its aggressive free jazz flow. The Love Supreme Deluxe edition includes a live Love that is worth the price of the set. Live in Japan are performances shortly before his death. Blues For … is a tribute cd of covers. Coltrane is as close to God in music as one can get.
“Will the frail blocking Aisle Six please get a move on. Will the frail blocking Aisle Six please get a move on.”
Aisle six? Aisle six? I looked up from my shopping list. I was having trouble reading my handwriting, again. I really have to start printing. Was that tomato paste or tomato pasta?
“Will the frail blocking Aisle Six please get a move on.”
Aisle Six? That was one aisle over, wasn’t it? I just had to get these last few things on my list. All I needed now was the tooth paste, or was that tomato paste? What did I need? I visualized my bathroom, then the kitchen. God it was time to replace those tiles over the sink. I wonder if they have any of that adhesive glue I saw advertised on TV last night.
“Will the frail blocking Aisle Six please get a move on.”
A hand gently touched me on the shoulder.
‘Can I help you sir?’
‘No, no. I’m doing alright young man.’
‘Perhaps if we moved your cart over a little others could get by.’
‘You saying I’m in the way? Is that what you’re saying? Spit it out.’
‘Sir please. Let’s just move along. You have your list there? Good. Perhaps I can help you with the it.’
‘I suppose you might be of some use.’ I handed him the list. ‘Does that look like tooth paste or tomato paste to you?’
He squinted at the list. ‘They’re both on the list.’
‘Are they now? Well now we are getting somewhere.’
The young man pushed my cart to the end of the aisle.
‘You wait right here sir and I’ll get these things for you.’
‘No, no. I can do this myself. Don’t want to end up with the most expensive brands you know. Money doesn’t grow on lawns anymore you know.’
‘Yes I know that sir. Follow me then and we’ll have this done in a jiffy.’
He ran to the next aisle.
‘Not so fast I’m not as quick on my feet as you are, you know. You know that don’t you? Can’t you see that? Not so swift on my feet.’
‘Right sir. Here we are. Now which brand of tooth paste would you like. We have mint gel, antiseptic fluoridated Crest with plaque guard or do you need a denture cleaner.’
‘These are my own teeth. Just give me something that works and doesn’t cost an arm and a head.’
‘Here’s the store brand. Wintermint.’
‘Good. That’ll do.’
‘God damned frails,’ he muttered under his breath.
Frails? Frails? Was he muttering about me. Well I’d soon put a stop to that. I pushed my cart over his toes.
‘Ouch!’ he hopped up and down on one foot.
‘Sorry sonny gotta get a move on.’
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