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John Coltrane, is in a sense, as Ira Gitler wrote in the liner notes to Coltrane's 1957 self-titled album — featuring his first session as a band leader — a new star, "but he has not arrived through high-pressure press agentry. He has been building on more solid ground."
From the time of his joining the Miles Davis quintet in late 1955 through to his brilliant work with Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot Cafe in the summer of 1957, Coltrane steadily increased his accomplishments on his instrument and gained new admirers for his playing among his fellow musicians and the serious listening public. For this date Coltrane chose his musicians, he contributed several compositions and he also wrote some of the arrangements.
"Bakai" (meaning "cry" in Arabic), by Cal Massey, opens side one. Its handsome minor theme is expounded by pianist Red Garland, Coltrane (whose horn really cries), and baritone saxophonist Sahib Shihab. The rest of side one is handled by the quartet featuring Coltrane and Garland. Two ballad standards, "Violet for Your Furs" and "Time Was," are the subjects; the former receives a sensitive ballad treatment while the latter is done in bright medium time.
Side two opens on "Straight Street," a Coltrane composition and arrangement featuring solos by Coltrane, trumpeter Johnnie Splawn and pianist Mal Waldron. An interestingly different Coltrane interpretation of the seldom-done "While My Lady Sleeps" is Coltrane's alone until Splawn joins him for a final eerie note. Coltrane's "Chronic Blues" is the closer and gives all the horns and Waldron solo room.
Another fine-sounding Prestige mono, Coltrane crackles with spontaneous intensity. Al Heath's drum triplets spark 'Bakai,' as Coltrane's throaty tenor introduces the repetitive, Arabic-influenced theme. 'Violets For Your Furs' is sort of precursor to Coltrane's fine Ballads album (1963), while a string of mostly up-tempo tunes follow.
Kevin Gray's mastering is superb. This first effort makes my mouth water for a few of the truly rare titles in the series that have always eluded my reach and my grasp as a collector. I've owned original yellow label originals and later blue label versions of this album and the fabulous sound of this new version should make any jazz enthusiast ecstatic.
- 180g Vinyl
- Mastered from the Original Master Tapes by Kevin Gray
- Pressed at Quality Record Pressings
- Deluxe High-Gloss Tip-On Album Jacket
|John Coltrane||tenor sax|
|Sahib Shihab||baritone sax|
|Albert "Tootie" Heath||drums|
- Violets for Your Furs
- Time Was
- Straight Street
- While My Lady Sleeps
- Chronic Blues