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.
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.