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    John Coltrane – Live in ’60, ’61 and ’65

    John Coltrane - Live in ’60, ’61 and ’65

    If you’re a fan of John Coltrane–the not-so-jolly giant of ’60s jazz–you already know that footage of the man in action is more rare than a Kinetoscope film of a pterodactyl crashing a Tupperware party. So, imagine my surprise when a whole DVD’s worth of moving images chasing the Trane winked its way into existence inside that as-yet-unamed reality that we call home. The disc rolls out the red carpet for no less than three performances from small town Europe in the early 1960s.

    The first set was filmed on March 28, 1960 in Dusseldorf, West Germany on an off night during a Miles Davis Quintet tour. (Having been Davis’ sideman for years, Coltrane begrudgingly did this one last tour with him as a favor.) With Coltrane at the helm, this set boasts five examples of super-mellow, late-night, smokey supper club ballads occasionally salted with Coltrane’s rapid-fire sheets of sound approach that he had developed in the mid-’50s. Featuring Davis’ rhythm section–Paul Chambers on bass, Jimmy Cobb on drums and Wynton Kelly on piano–the whole lilting thing was filmed for a TV broadcast in stark black-and-white with multiple cameras, which allowed for some pleasantly artistic montages of already nicely composed scenes. Fellow sax man Stan Getz and pianist Oscar Peterson guest on a couple of tracks.

    The performance that transpired on December 4, 1961 inside a life-sized Erector Set in Baden-Baden, West Germany was part of Coltrane’s first tour as a leader and marks the point when the Classic Quartet was just starting to coalesce, with McCoy Tyner on piano and Elvin Jones on drums. (Bassist Reggie Workman would soon be replaced by Jimmy Garrison in early 1962, making the historic group complete.) Eric Dolphy also joined in on alto sax and flute. Captured by TV cameras once again in moody black-and-white, the group unleashes another long set, highlighted by an epic, moving version of My Favorite Things, as Coltrane on soprano sax and Eric Dolphy on flute puncture the mix with a high-pitched, reedy sound.

    Ironically, the footage filmed four years later–on the chilly night of August 1, 1965 at an outdoor gig in Comblain-La-Tour, Belgium–looks and sounds decidedly more lo-fi. The performance of Vigil is chock-full of the raspy screams and guttural moans that mark the beginning of Coltrane’s raw and unfettered free jazz period–inspired by Albert Ayler–that would last for two more years until his death in 1967. (Indeed, Coltrane and an expanded ensemble had, just a few weeks before, recorded Ascension, one of the heaviest pieces of music of all time.) Drops of perspiration literally fly off the face of Elvin Jones as he sweats five gallon buckets, and the sax sound occasionally ducks out as Coltrane doubles over out of mic range and proceeds to blow his instrument out of the water.

    The mood mellows again during Naima, an ode to Coltrane’s first wife, highlighted by a long, lightly pounding McCoy Tyner solo. The set closes with another extended version of My Favorite Things, featuring an additional, long ivory-tickling excursion from Tyner. As steam literally wafts off the band members’ heads into the cold night air, the group plows full steam ahead, with waves of high tension and ecstatic release from Coltrane, until a final downshift brings the gargantuan piece to a somber end. Fittingly, this was to be the group’s last show in Europe and their final filmed performance. Complete with a thick booklet full of excellent, informative essays and photos, this DVD is perfect for any and all fans of John Coltrane.

    Label: Jazz Icons Catalog Number: 2119007 Format: DVD Packaging: Plastic case Total Time: 95:00 Country: United States Released: 2007 More: All About Jazz, All Music, Coltrane Church, Discogs, Naxos, Official, Wikipedia, YouTube

    Text ©2011 Arcane Candy

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