Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Trane's Best Seller

Coltranefavorite Jazz fans would probably rank A Love Supreme, Giant Steps, and Live At the Village Vanguard, as John Coltrane's most important albums. Each one is certainly a masterpiece. But his greatest commercial success was My Favorite Things, which featured a jazz interpretation of the Sound of Music hit, and sold like hot cakes. Backing him up were McCoy Tyner on piano, Steve Davis on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. MFT is a compelling disc. I put it on a couple of nights ago, when I was preoccupied by a scholarly concern. The music made me forget the paper I have due in about six days.

I just got Coltrane's Sound from Barnes & Noble. It was recorded at the same time as MFT, but is a little more restrained and romantic. I have only listened to it once, but I would be hard put to say that it ranks second to the more popular album. It does have one of the worst examples of cover art in the history of jazz. Trane's face is depicted in smears of paint. It looks like he is melting. According to lore, he was distressed by it.

You can hear and watch the Quartet play My Favorite Things at DailyMotion. The venue is Sudwestfunk TV Studio, Baden-Baden, West Germany, November 24, 1961. Eric Dolphy joins in. I am not sure that Dolphy was not a bad influence on Coltrane. He was wild at heart, and a lot of his music is incomprehensible to me. But in this set they stick very close to the melody. Watching the light reflect off of Trane's cheeks is worth the ticket.

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