Michael Fremer Rated 11/11 Music, 10/11 Sonics!
Analog Planet Rated 10/11 Music, 9/11 Sonics!
TAS Rated 5/5 Music, 4.5/5 Sonics in the January 2023 Issue of The Absolute Sound!
On September 15, 1957, John Coltrane went into Rudy Van Gelder's living room studio in Hackensack, New Jersey and recorded his first great masterpiece: Blue Train. It would be the legendary saxophonist's sole album as a leader for Blue Note, a locomotive five-track album fueled by the bluesy title track that featured a dynamic six-piece band with Lee Morgan on trumpet, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Kenny Drew on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. To mark the 65th anniversary of the album's recording, Blue Train will be released in two special editions as part of Blue Note's acclaimed Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series: a 1-LP mono pressing of the original album and a 2-LP stereo pressing of Blue Train: The Complete Masters which includes a second disc of alternate and incomplete takes, four of which have never been released before, and none of which have been available previously on vinyl. The 2-LP set comes with a bound booklet featuring session photos by Francis Wolff and an essay by Coltrane expert Ashley Kahn.
Both Tone Poet Vinyl Editions were produced by Joe Harley, mastered by Kevin Gray from the original analog master tapes, pressed on 180g vinyl at RTI, and packaged in deluxe gatefold tip-on jackets.
If you want to hear what's on the tape, the dynamic range, the bass, the stereo spread, the timbral richness and textural completeness (where the reediness of Coltrane's sax replaces the original's kazoo-sound), this new reissue gives it all to you... Honestly, this new edition, is in every way, the best sounding, most historically complete, visually stunning Blue Train ever and the price is righteous. Two miracles: one is that the Scotch 111 original tape is in such incredible condition 65 years on. The sound here is full-bodied and immediate - even Kenny Drew's piano avoids the Rudy piano hollowness found on many of his recordings. The second is that in 2022 we are getting the best vinyl reissues ever and they are being bought by young people! Buy! Listen! Enjoy! Look at it on the shelf next to your Tone Poets! Or if you insist, next to your original.
The good folks behind Blue Note's Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue series have crafted not one but two releases to celebrate the 65th anniversary of this most beloved Trane album - namely, separate 180g 1LP mono and 180g 2LP stereo editions. This likely raises a slight dilemma for some of us as to which version of we should buy... the good news is, both the mono and stereo editions of Blue Train are indeed excellent, each of them offering a different and distinct listening experience... If you must make a choice and aren't hung up on things like soundstage and such, then the stereo version offers the best value proposition. There you will get two (count 'em!) fine-sounding 180g LPs, plus the fabulous bonus booklet that is not in the mono edition. Generally, the stereo edition sounds great. There is plenty of air in this stereo recording, and the bass is plenty prominent. All the instruments sound rich and realistic, and the drums are especially crisp and detailed. Plus, you get an entire disc of outtakes and alternate versions - which, if you know Trane, can often be as invigorating as the saxophonist's master takes... Either way - mono or stereo - you won't go wrong. These two new Blue Note Tone Poet editions of Blue Train offer great-sounding presentations of this truly legendary jazz recording.
Jazz fans have remained remarkably patient as Blue Note cranked out crates and crates of vinyl reissues of other albums from their voluminous catalog, waiting for the label to finally get around to repressing Blue Train, John Coltrane's lone release for the imprint. At long last, it has arrived as part of Blue Note's Tone Poet series with Joe Harley and Kevin Gray's sparkling clean remaster of this 1957 recording pressed to thick 180 gram vinyl. The original album was already revelatory, but this new edition takes it to even greater heights of glory by being respectful of the artist's vision and the work of engineer Rudy Van Gelder. The music doesn't sound remarkably different from an original pressing but there's clarity and a balance to the mix that sounds like it is drawing this ensemble, which included trumpeter Lee Morgan, drummer Philly Joe Jones and trombonist Curtis Fuller, even closer together. Completing the picture is a second LP of alternate takes that include variations on solos and slight shifts in mood that take this familiar material to entirely new places.
Released in January of 1958, Blue Train marks a significant step forward for Coltrane as a composer (four of the five tracks are his originals). With a swinging, all-world rhythm section of pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe JOnes, the leader's rich three-horn harmonies with trumpeter Lee Morgan and trombonist Curtis Fuller are particularly effective on the stirring title track and the harmonically complex 'Moments Notice.' While Morgan's solos are crackling with youthful intensity, as on the hard boppish 'Locomotive,' Fuller provides a mellow counterbalance. And the leader's 'sheets of sound' approach portends things to come. His wistful reading of the standard 'I'm Old Fashioned' is also a precursor to his sublime Ballads album of 1963.
- 180g Vinyl
- Double LP
- Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series
- Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio
- Mastered from Original Analog Master Tapes
- Produced by Joe Harley
- Second LP of Alternate & Incomplete Takes - First Time on Vinyl
- Four Previously Unreleased Tracks
- Pressed at RTI
- Bound Booklet - Never-Before-Seen Session Photos by Francis Wolff & Essay by Coltrane Expert Ashley Kahn
- Deluxe Gatefold Tip-On Jacket
|John Coltrane||tenor sax|
|"Philly" Joe Jones||drums|
- Blue Train
- Moment's Notice
- I'm Old Fashioned
- Lazy Bird
- Blue Train - False Start
- Blue Train - Alternate Take 7
- Moment's Notice - Alternate Take 4
- Lazy Bird - Alternate Take 1
- Blue Train - Alternate Take 8
- Moment's Notice - Alternate Take 5A (incomplete)
- Lazy Bird - Alternate Take 2