John Coltrane | The Impulse Story

Coltrane (ss, ts), Eric Dolphy (as, arr), Pharoah Sanders (ts), McCoy Tyner, Alice Coltrane (p), Jimmy Garrison, Reggie Workman (b), Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes and Rashied Ali (d) plus others. Rec. 1961-1967     
No single CD compilation can of course begin to cover the entire Coltrane story for the Impulse! label, so there always has to be an element of decision in terms of what in the great man’s career to emphasise in these years. Compiler Ashley Kahn has (with one exception) gone for work completed in the studio and stresses what could be seen as hard core Coltrane values. We get the big band version of ‘Greensleeves’ scored by Eric Dolphy from McCoy Tyner’s piano accompaniment that appeared originally on Africa/Brass as well as a short studio version of ‘Impressions’, alongside the moving ‘Tunji’ from Coltrane and 1963’s beautiful ballad ‘After The Rain’. The exception to this studio rule is the landmark ‘Chasin’ The Trane’ from 1961’s Live At The Village Vanguard. From 1964 we get the short but pithy ‘Bessie’s Blues’, originally the closer to side one of Crescent, then we move into two bleeding chunks from Coltrane suites – ‘Acknowledgement’ from A Love Supreme and ‘The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost’ from Meditations. Both are breathtaking commencements of two masterpieces but may prove bewildering for the uninitiated, taken from their larger contexts. The closer is the exquisite ‘Ogunde’, a track which opened 1967’s Expression, the last album overseen by Coltrane himself and a concise performance rarely cited as prime late Coltrane. In this I agree entirely with Kahn – a beautiful way to conclude from a man at the peak of his powers.
Keith Shadwick