Ellington and Coltrane (1962)

Track Selection:  “In a Sentimental Mood”

Artists

John Coltrane (ss, ts) Duke Ellington (p) Aaron Bell (b -1,2,5,6) Jimmy Garrison (b -3,4,7) Sam Woodyard (d -1,5,6) Elvin Jones (d -2/4,7) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, September 26, 1962

First Mulligan and Monk, now Ellington and Coltrane. You wait ages for two Giants to come along, then another two Giants appear all at once.

Music

I have not been a huge fan of Impulse. I find they sound rather mediocre compared Blue Note, and their roster of artists not often to my taste. However one look at that beautiful laminated gatefold cover and the Rudy Van Gelder engineering credits had me feeling for my credit card . Original US Impulse rather than the weak UK ABC-Impulse reissues, my preferred mono format, and the pairing of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane grabbed my curiosity.

Big band swing has never done much for me so I have Ellington pigeonholed perhaps wrongly in the “thanks but no thanks” box. However he is armed only with a piano here, and  Coltrane in no position to grandstand. They come together as each masters in their own fields, to explore how they work together. The result is neither a Coltrane album nor an Ellington album, but something rather beautiful in their place.

Each brought their own choice of rhythm section – one minute you have Elvin Jones, the next Sam Woodyard. It matters little as all ears remain focussed on the interplay between Ellington and Coltrane.

The standout track for me is “In a Sentimental Mood” a dreamy wistful melodic excursion, in which Ellington plays Coltrane, while Coltrane plays Ellington, and all the while the musical compass points in  a less familiar direction.

Another one-of-a-kind record, deserving its’ space on your shelf.

12 thoughts on “Ellington and Coltrane (1962)

  1. I have just started collecting vinyl and this was the first relatively valuable record that I bought. A bit of a mystery to me…it has the older orange and black Impulse! label but re-issue runout etchings (“Bell Sound LW”). Every come across this? I was told “original” stereo pressing at the store and was definitely overcharged. This was before I discovered Discogs and LJC. Ah well…at least it sounds really good…

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    • LW is Longwear Plating Company – all Impulse are sourced from metal parts by Longwear, letters LW pin-etched in the run out .

      Impulse changed label design over time, the Orange label black rim, as follows:
      1960-63: “A PRODUCT OF AM-PAR RECORD CORP.”
      1963-66: “A PRODUCT OF ABC-PARAMOUNT RECORDS, INC.”
      1967-68: ” ABC RECORDS INC New York NY 10019″

      They used whatever design was current at the time (unlike Blue Note who used up old stock from inventory before printing more) So if you have Orange label black rim, it comes from the period that label was in use, whether the first issue or a repressing. You need to check the address on the label.

      The Bell Sound stamp would seem to indicate the mastering was by Bell Sound studios, and not Van Gelder. I assume your copy does not have a VAN GELDER stamp? That is the bit that is curious. It would seem more copies of this recording were pressed, but from metal mastered by Bell Sound.

      Unusual, but not impossible, and not necessarily a good sign, Van Gelder master is generally the best.

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      • ABC Paramount on label, which settles it I guess. But I also discovered a new twist (via Discogs)…earlier repressings say “AS-30” then “Side 1” below while later repressings say “AS-30-A”. What mostly threw me off was the Bell Sound stamp. It does sound great to my untrained ears. The stereo soundstage is fantastic, particularly the very first passages of Sentimental Mood. Thanks for replying!

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  2. Yea I originally thought the release date was 1962 so thought I’d have to settle for a 1963 release. I’ve just won the bid! I can’t wait till it arrives, thanks a lot for your advice, it really helped! 😀

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  3. It seems I got my dates mixed up! Thanks a lot for that, I’ll make it a point to visit some record shops when I find the time. I came across this on ebay, though I’m unsure about the difference in sound quality of stereo compared to mono. Stereo records I have come across have been priced slightly higher, but this one seems ok in price, I just wouldn’t know what to expect.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Impulse-Stereo-A-30-Duke-Ellington-John-Coltrane-Original-VAN-GELDER-Jazz-LP-/230780252627?pt=Music_on_Vinyl&hash=item35bb9331d3

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    • Recorded September 1962, so original release year is probably 1963. Your eBay find looks good , graded VG++ and reasonably priced, looks to me like the original US first release. Though I generally prefer mono with records from this period, the stereo on these Impulse recordings is very good – it’s Van Gelder mastered, so it should sound great, stereo in this case preferrable even.

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  4. Where did you get your copy from? I’m searching for an original and it’s quite difficult to track but I’d love to have it. Do you think a 1963 release is just as good?

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    • Hi Elizabeth, and welcome. This came from a secondhand record shop in West London the other year. They had just the one copy, obviously. I saw one again on the wall at Rays Jazz in London, but it sold pretty quickly.They do turn up. Its not insanely rare but you just have to keep looking.

      As an antidote to eBay there are sources like CDandLP, popular with fixed price European sellers. There are a few copies here –

      http://www.cdandlp.com/liste/?srt=4&lng=2&what=artiste&fmt=0&tete=Ellington+Coltrane&stringa=&stringt=

      I bought one record through here and you need to be savvy about grading. Mine was considerably below standard, and some sellers here don’t care about their “reputation” as it is not well policed like eBay/Paypal.

      Good luck

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