This unreleased and never-before-heard 1964 recording by John Coltrane and his Classic Quartet, Blue World, features new recordings of earlier works which, in an almost unprecedented move, they reinterpreted for this session, recorded at Van Gelder Studios.
The recordings were made in June 1964, in between the sessions for Crescent and A Love Supreme. Coltrane had been approached by a filmmaker in Quebec, Gilles Groux, who was planning to make his film Le chat dans le sac, a love story set in Montreal that had political overtones. Groulx was a devoted Coltrane aficionado, and via his connection with bassist Jimmy Garrison, he approached the great jazz figurehead with the idea of Coltrane recording the film's soundtrack. Remarkably, he agreed.
So it was that he went into the studio with Garrison, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner to revisit and reinterpret some of Coltrane's earlier works. The session was recorded on quarter-inch analog mono tape and mixed by the great jazz engineer Rudy Van Gelder on 24 June. Groulx, who had been present at the session, took the masters to Canada to use in Le chat dans le sac, but only included ten minutes from the 37-minute recording. Devotees and new admirers will hear both Coltrane's creative progression and the consistent, interactive sound that had become the signature of the Classic Quartet by 1964. The album is also a window into a fascinating and hugely significant period in Coltrane's musical evolution, set in between two of his most transcendent recordings. Crescent was released in July, and A Love Supreme the following January.
Kevin Reeves at Universal Music Mastering in New York has now remastered Blue World from the original analog tape. The lacquers for the new release were cut at Capitol Studios by Ron McMaster.
Both Directions At Once captured Coltrane in 1963, one day before the John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman session. On that release, there are several takes of his current compositions such as 'Impressions' as well as two untitled, previously unreleased compositions. In my review, I found it to be a decent enough album, but one that didnt live up to the hype. Blue World, however, may not be hyped enough... On this set, Coltrane's 'Classic Quartet' of himself, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones is in top form; although not significantly breaking new ground, at every turn they offer fresh innovations on the older material. Whereas Coltrane's Atlantic sessions, especially in the first half of his tenure there, featured whichever musicians were available, the Classic Quartet had been together for two years prior to the Blue World session. Inevitably, it was a far tighter unit than Trane's previous groups; they sensed each other's forthcoming moves and musically pushed each other forward. While that excellent cohesion has always been easily recognized, comparing the Blue World takes (specifically those of 'Naima,' one of his most performed, and therefore altered, songs) to the compositions' original recordings truly highlights its importance in Coltrane's Impulse!-era sound, specifically his musical boundary-breaking... The LP, despite being sourced from a mono mix intended for an optical film soundtrack sounds excellent. Cut from the Kevin Reeves-mastered 192/24 file by Ron McMaster, the sound is three-dimensional, clean, and lively. Coltrane's tenor comes through clearly and fluidly, Jimmy Garrison's bass is appropriately thick and muscular, Elvin Jones' drums create a large reverberation through Van Gelder Studios, and while not miked the best, McCoy Tyner's piano sound gets the job done... Overall, this archival session's release is a win for Ume's recently revitalized Impulse! sector.
It is remarkable to hear, 52 years after his death on July 17, 1967, a 'new' studio recording by legendary tenor saxophonist John Coltrane and his fabled quartet with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones. But for Trane fans and completists, this is a veritable treasure trove... While the group's renditions of 'Naima' and 'Village Blues' convey a warm, relaxed feel, the expansive 'Traneing In' (the oldest cut here, being the title track from Coltrane's 1957 Prestige album with the Red Garland Trio) really takes off in scintillating fashion. Following a lengthy opening bass solo by Garrison, the band kicks in at the 2:51 mark, triggering some mid-tempo, swinging interaction from Garrison, Tyner and Jones until the leader enters at the 5:05 mark, his robust tenor tones filling the air in gutsy, glorious fashion for the next 2:33. The calm after that invigorating storm is their second take on the serene 'Naima,' named for the saxophonist's first wife. Drummer Jones offers some rhythmic variation from his usual alluring brushwork on this tune by switching to sticks and turning the beat around in eccentric ways at the outset, offering some atypical tension and uncharacteristic swinging energy on this otherwise sublime anthem... The title track, Coltrane's moody, modal contrafact on Harold Arlen's 'Out of This World,' is essentially the same heightened treatment that the sax great delivered on his stunning re-imaginings of 'My Favorite Things' and 'Chim Chim Cher-ee,' and provides some of the most freewheeling, pulse-quickening stretching of the set while offering a portend of thigns to come on A Love Supreme. While this lone track would no doubt be readily embraced by ardent fans of avant-garde jazz, the others on this exceptional set, especially all three takes of the earthy 'Village Blues' and 'Traneing In,' might be more palatable to mainstream fans.
- Vinyl LP
- All tracks previously unreleased
- Recorded, mixed & mastered by Rudy Van Gelder at Van Gelder Studios on June 24, 1964
- Re-mastered from the original analog tape by Kevin Reeves at Universal Music Mastering
- Original 1/4" analog mono tapes were used for all tracks
- Lacquers cut by Ron McMaster at Capitol Studios
- Pressed at Quality Record Pressings
|John Coltrane||tenor saxophone|
- Naima (Take 1)
- Village Blues (Take 2)
- Blue World
- Village Blues (Take 1)
- Village Blues (Take 3)
- Like Sonny
- Traneing In
- Naima (Take 2)