Original Release Date: July 11th 1958
Re-release date (RVG Remaster): March 3rd 2009
Availabilty: CD, MP3 download, iTunes
Prestige in the 50s, along with other labels, was notorious in allowing no rehearsal time, leaving busy on-the-road musicians to make do as best they could in the studio itself. That meant that a strategy that could deliver and yet still offer quality of performance was to record standards that everyone in the band would know and then add originality in the improvised solos.
This strategy had worked memorably for Miles Davis in his 1956 albums for Presitige ("Relaxin' ", "Workin' ", "Steamin' ", "Cookin'") which produced some of the best jazz ever recorded and in which John Coltrane played a major part. Here, two years later and with trumpeter Wilbur Harden replacing Miles Davis, John Coltrane adopts the same approach to four standards with similarly impressive results.
The band – John Coltrane (tenor sax), Wilbur Harden (trumpet, flugelhorn), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Jimy Cobb (drums) - is the Miles Davis band of the day minus Miles and with Jimmy Cobb replacing Philly Joe Jones.
Recorded post his redefinition of his life with "Blue Train", John Coltrane's playing has all the assurance and vision that would lead him to the great achievements of "Giant Steps" and "A Love Supreme". His tone, brought out wonderfully in Rudy Van Gelder's remastering, his phrasing and his musical imagination is right up there with the best work of his career.
The songs were all well known songs from popular shows or films. But, especially in the ballads – "Don't Take You Love From Me" (Henry Nemo) and "Invitation" (Bronislau Kaper / Paul Francis Webster) – John Coltrane's treatment lifts them to new heights of emotion and intensity of expression, with "Invitation" especially memorable. The more uptempo "Spring Is Here" (Richard Rodgers / Lorenz Hart) produces some fine sax playing. "I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)" (Fred Ahlert / Roy Turk), also breezy and uptempo, is less significant, more a run through of a standard than the positive reinterpretation of the other tracks.
A further ballad recorded at the same session "Something I Dreamed Last Night" was released on the album "Bahia" and shares the same beauty and intensity. Notably, other tracks on "Bahia" such as the title track and "Goldsboro Express" show the signs of lack of rehearsal time.
Wilbur Harden is no Miles Davis but he plays well throughout. The rhythm section is restrained and perfect accompaniment for the main event – the continued flowering of John Coltrane's visionary talent.
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John Coltrane Complete Discography and Sessionography
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