John Coltrane – Soultrane (1958) Transatlantic

Track Selection: Russian Lullaby (Irving Berlin)


John Coltrane (ts) Red Garland (p) Paul Chambers (b) Art Taylor (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, February 7, 1958


The album is a showcase for Coltrane’s late-1950s “sheets of sound” style. The term, coined by Ira Gitler, describes Coltranes new sweeping sound, that was harmonically vertical – arpeggiating three chords simultaneously to produce a harmonic flow that was vertical (chordal) as opposed to horizontal (melody). And of course doing it blindingly fast, a term requires no explanation from me.

Producer Bob Weinstock relates Coltrane’s humorous reimagining of the Irving Berlin tune Russian Lullaby:

We were doing a session and we were hung for a tune and I said, “Trane, why don’t you think up some old standard?” He said, “OK I got it. “..and they played “Russian Lullaby” at a real fast tempo. At the end I asked, “Trane, what was the name of that tune?” And he said, “Rushin’ Lullaby.” I cracked up.
                                                                                                          (source: wiki)

Vinyl: UK second release 1968

First issued in 1958 as  Prestige PRLP 7142 with corresponding UK release Esquire 32-089 , reissued ten years later on US Prestige PR 7531, UK 2nd issue on the successor to Esquire, Nathan Joseph’s Transatlantic Records (1968)

I had tried only a couple of Transatlantic pressings before, but they had all sounded pretty good. With a few exceptions, most records do if they were pressed  before the 1973 – the hike in the price of oil that led to economies on vinyl, and the migration to solid state technology, parting company with the inherent quality of analogue equipment.

Collectors Corner

I had been chasing the first release on UK Esquire without success , as on each occasion the price went through the roof and I didn’t much fancy paying over $300 for this record. However a chance visit to a Soho shop turned up a 1968 second issue on the successor to Esquire, the Transatlantic label.

This particular shop specialises in new vinyl releases of trend-setting music for people who are, to borrow a phrase from the late and sadly missed Douglas Adams,  “so achingly hip they have difficulty seeing over their pelvis”. Normally I pass the shop by, but on this one occasion some kind of otherworldly green ray beamed from the sky steered me into the shop, and drew my eyes up to the wall. And on the wall, collectible jazz, wooeeee.

Conversation with the friendly counter staff quickly revealed they had just bought a jazz collection of original releases in excellent condition, among them an autographed Coltrane “Africa Brass” which they were selling on eBay, similar to another autographed Coltrane currently under auction (see inset). The signature looks the business, and should make a Trane-ist very happy, as I believe the man was not much of a one for autographs.

The original collector had good taste and I was happy to walk away with three of his records. It would have been more but alas the collector and I had a good number of records in common. That’s the downside of having good taste. Other collectors have it too. Still, at £20 I figured I had saved a great deal against the Esquire, which I can leave to another day. But I’m still trying to explain to myself why I would walk into a shop I know full well doesn’t do collectible jazz.  Just keep watching the skies.

15 thoughts on “John Coltrane – Soultrane (1958) Transatlantic

  1. Hi LJC,

    I have 2 versions of the “original” Prestige Soultrane in front of me, one is mine and the other belongs to a friend. We noticed some slight differences between the 2 and was hoping that you could shed some light. On the front cover, bottom lower right, Esmond Edwards name is black on one and white on the other. The copy with the white print has an LP that weighs about 165 gram and the other LP weighs about 198 gram. There were several markings in the deadwax that could make one suspect they were original 1st pressings. Couldn’t find any info about it online so I am bringing the question to you and your blog readers! Does anyone have any insight they can share on this? Thanks!

    • Are the back cover slicks the exactly the same? Are there any differences in the deadwax etchings? It seems likely that the heavier one with black print would be earlier but hard to tell without all the details and/or pictures.

    • Interesting. Rudolf, are you out there? We need you.

      For what it’s worth, EE is in black type on my first (and it’s definitely a first, having been purchased on release by original owner). Matrix info is PRLP-7142-A RVG (sideways) A AB / PRLP-7142-B RVG (sideways) A AB.

    • Soultrane is the first Prestige with Bergenfield address. Mine has the name in black. I’m sending Andrew pics of labels and cover. If he likes he can publish them here for comparison.

      • The jackets are exactly the same except for that small type difference on the front (I can send a pic I took earlier today). I don’t have both in LPs front of me right now but they both had the NJ labels, the correct matrix # in the run out and RVG stamps. There were different letters in other parts of the dead wax but it didn’t seem like any of them could easily be tied to stamper #s. I will have the full run out info soon – thx!

  2. Hey LJC, just scored the record only on the blue and silver Prestige trident label. Hopefully one day I’ll be fortunate enough (with enough loot) to score an original – but this will have to do for now. Hopefully I can also buy just the cover from someone through EBay too though at some point. Looking forward to listening to it, even though this is certainly nothing special in terms of collector’s items but it’s all about the music in the end right?

    • Only ever about the music. Everything else is a bonus. Those Prestige Blue/ Silver Trident are feisty pressings. I have the Esquire now, which is top of the tree for me.Their origins are both the original Prestige metalwork, so you should be in for a treat.

      I passed on the Prestige original the other week – £250 they wanted – too rich for me when the Esquire will sound identical. But the Esquire cover is truly dreadful:

      Sometimes you have to draw a line with this “lust for first pressings”. It is still about the music – and hearing it at its best.

      • Thanks for the reply, LJC! I just saw some listings for the very pressing I bought….not having listened to it first which is the ultimate litmus test, I did see that it must have been rechanneled for stereo and thus the dreaded ‘fake stereo.’ Being that it does still have the Van Gelder stamp in the deadwax maybe the ‘fake stereo’ label on this record is just a false alarm? I’m hoping it doesn’t spell doom here…..

        • If it has been electronically reprocessed for stereo, brace yourself. Some I have heard have been unlistenable, others, to be honest not much different from the mono apart from a top register cymbals appear on one side or the other. There is always the possibility it has been remixed for stereo by going back to the original tapes, which can be very good. I wouldn’t try to second guess it. As always in life, hope for the best, prepare yourself for the worst.

  3. What a great record, love this one. Don’t have a copy on vinyl….had one briefly that came with a collection–a first pressing too, but sadly it was TRASHED. Amazingly it still played through, but was hard to listen to and the cover was equally rough. Ended up getting rid of it. Hoping to get a nice copy one day….

    • A first press, eh, shame. Lucky heather could be a helpful investment here, and they say a rabbits foot brings good luck, (though it wasn’t very lucky for the rabbit) Hope you are able to track one down.

  4. Call it the sixth sense, the third eye, gut feeling, a hunch, fingerspitzengefühl, a brief privileged glimpse into the fourth dimension, but it’s true: every now and then, every once in a blue moon, you will indeed experience that weird notion that today’s your day and that there’s a fabulous score just waiting to happen. It happened to me before I obtained Henderson’s “Page One”. If I had not visited that particular webpage that day, I’d never laid hands on it! 😉

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