John Coltrane - Settin' The Pace


Release date: March 1958

Re-release date (RVG Remaster): April 1st 2008

Availabilty: CD, MP3 download, iTunes

Settin' The Pace cover

In one sense, "Settin' The Pace" is not much more than a throwaway session from 1958 in which John Coltrane delivered on his contract with Prestige, sufferring, as with most of their musicians at this time, from no paid time for rehearsals. The band - John Coltrane (tenor sax), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) and Art Taylor (drums) – sound anything but prepared. So this is something like a long intake of breath before the luminous breakthroughs of "Kind of Blue" with Miles Davis and his own "Giant Steps" both issuing forth just a year later. Yet John Coltrane is such an important voice in the development of jazz that even as a throwaway "Settin' The Pace" has a qualities greater than most jazz musicians achieve in a lifetime.

Three seemingly unpromising show tunes from the '30s are given the distinctive John Coltrane treatment. The Dietz/Schwartz ballad "I See Your Face Before Me" is given a beautiful reworking, a foretaste perhaps of the control and expressiveness that he would bring to compositions of his own such as "Naima". "If There is Someone Lovelier Than You" by the same composers is more uptempo and routine sounding, yet leads to some distinctive playing. "Rise 'N' Shine", the Buddy De Sylva/ Vincent Youmans song from the 1932 musical comedy "Take A Chance", offers an equally unpromising starting point that opens out into some fiery soloing. We're not yet at the radical deconstructionism that would be applied to the apparently inane "The Inch Worm" or "Chim Chim Cheree" but you can hear and feel that kind of territory being opened up.

On a more solid bop foundation, a long version of Jackie McLean's "Little Melonae" is the stand out track, with strong musical ideas throughout. The whole band seems to know this one well with Red Garland opening up in a way that he does not elsewhere.

For this edition, a fifth track, "By The Numbers", a blues based jam that has been already included on the Prestige loose ends album "The Last Trane" is also included.

Newly remastered by Rudy Van Gelder, "Settin' The Pace" provides more than worthwhile material from a period of John Coltrane's career when the astonishing burst of creativity that would stay with him to the end was just on the point of realisation.

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