Selection: Summertime (Gershwin, Heyward)
Whilst the dreamy title track became an (edited-down) radio “hit”, and consumes almost one side of the record, I prefer the more audacious Summertime, as Coltrane turns up the heat, and rips up the conventional changes of this Sunny Delight tune with his new sheets of sound approach.
John Coltrane (ss, ts) McCoy Tyner (p) Steve Davis (b) Elvin Jones (d) recorded NYC, October 21, 24 and 26, 1960
Coltrane chronology highlights: Blue Train (1957); Coltrane (1957); Lush Life (1958); Soultrane (1958); Giant Steps (1959); Coltrane Jazz (1960); My Favourite Things (1960); Africa/Brass (May 1961); Village Vanguard sessions (1961)…A Love Supreme (1964)…Expression (1967)
Coltrane left behind a huge legacy of recordings between 1954 and 1967, and as a Coltraneist you could probably get by listening to nothing but Coltrane’s hundreds of titles for a many years. I prefer a more varied diet and am not a huge fan of his later spiritual period, though admitting such has been known to stop the conversation mid sentence. ( Look of incomprehension..You don’t like…?? I must have misheard, sorry. Say again?)
My Favourite Things was a landmark recording for Coltrane mid-career : the first to introduce his new quartet with McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, the first release on which he played the straight horn, soprano saxophone, and one of his last albums for Atlantic before signing with Impulse. It’s melodic, accessible nature has made it one of the most popular Coltrane recordings, up there between Blue Train and A Love Supreme.
With that biting tone and ferocious energy, Coltrane is a dominant player, so it is a pleasure to find him in a quartet with the capacity to not be overwhelmed by their soloist. In the absence of a Miles Davis counterweight, Tyner stands out in his large-scale melodic thinking while Jones and Davis push along the grooves with self-assured confidence. This is a John Coltrane Quartet album.
Vinyl: ATL 5022, first UK release of US Atlantic 1361, 139 gm
Published in the US in 1961, first released in UK three years later in 1964, around the same time as A Love Supreme.
Something must have happened in the arcane business world of licensing and labels around 1964, as it is published on Atlantic’s own label and catalogue number, merely pressed by Decca.The maroon Atlantic label with a silver fan is one I had not seen before, not the London Atlantic Crimson/Silver label of old.
Source: the late Brian Clark collection
Originally purchased from a record shop, Robinson’s, 356 Edgware Road, according to the sticker masking the Atlantic logo on the back sleeve. Robinsons I have only the faintest recollection of, as I bought most of my records around that time from the big His Masters Voice store in Oxford Street, shop sign “Popular * Classical * Jazz”.One of my favourite things as a teenager, Saturday morning we would head up to HMV, and take a couple of chosen LPs to a booth where you could actually play them for yourself, to see if you liked them. Some kids would spend their whole Saturday in HMV and not buy a thing, an early forerunner of free downloads.
The same HMV, one of the last remaining high street peddlers of The Evil Silver Disc, selling musical dross for the masses, has found itself unable to compete with online retailers of musical dross.
Once upon a time HMV was also a great record label, responsible for publishing most of Coltrane’s Impulse releases in the UK (tenuous link to the subject of this post), pressed by Decca’s great rival EMI (Evil Music Industry) in Hayes, Middlesex, a suburban location almost as dull as New
As His Masters Voice finally goes into administration, Nipper famous the dog on HMVs label, is homeless.
So long Nipper