Thursday, February 11, 2010

Coltrane's Interplay Box

The three box sets of John's Coltrane's Prestige recordings are treasure troves for jazz fans.  The largest and best by far is Fearless Leader.  If you have that one, you have most of Trane's early albums as leader.  Side Steps and Interplay contain Trane's work as a side man and double listed albums, respectively. 

Tonight I have been listening to Interplay, which just arrived in the mail.  Two of the sessions included in the box were one that I have been long familiar with.  I had a double LP that included Cats, with Tommy Flanagan as leader, and Kenny Burrell and John Coltrane.  I think that the former, like Flanagan's piano, has always been unfairly reviewed.  Flanagan was all heart, and he was a great partner behind a lot of Kenny Burrell recordings.  Here is one that has long been a favorite of mine. Burrell is here, along with Idrees Sulieman on trumpet, Doug Watkins on bass, and Louis Hayes on drums.  It was recorded in 1959, which might have been the single most magnificent year in the history of jazz. 
Minor Mishap
A recording I didn't have was Cattin' with Coltrane and Quinichette.  I don't know Paul Quinichette.  I think that the interplay between the two tenors is well worth listening to.  The incomparable Mal Waldron is on piano, Julian Euell on bass, and Ed Thigpen on drums.  Here is a sample:
It is interesting to note something about the metaphysics of jazz criticism.  Both of these recordings are solid jazz, and if they had been recorded by some minor league daimon of jazz, they would be justly praised.  But because Trane is playing on them they get compared to the Genesis and Romans of his old and new testaments, and are found wanting.  There is nothing wrong with that, it's just interesting.  If you are a Coltranist, as I surely am, you want to know the whole Bible. 

I am thinking about listening to the Trane corpus chronologically, and posting on that experience.  No promises, but if I do it you can read about it here. 

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