Garland Coltrane Byrd: Soul Junction (1957) Esquire

32-136-garland-soul-junction-front-1600Selection: Birks Works (Gillespie)

A favourite Gillespie tune which haunts the corridors of bop along with A Night in Tunisia, given a good outing here by Byrd and Coltrane tearing through the changes.


Donald Byrd (t) John Coltrane (ts) Red Garland (p) George Joyner (b) Art Taylor (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, November 15, 1957


1957 found Bop still strong and vibrant, with a good few years of life still ahead of it. If there were any storm clouds  gathering, it was Coltrane pushing back the boundaries.

LJC Thinks some moreColtrane spoke of playing the same chord three or four different ways within a measure, or overlapping chords before the change, advancing further the investigation of upper harmonic intervals begun by Charlie Parker. Attempting to articulate so many harmonic variants before the change, Coltrane was necessarily led to preternatural velocity and occasionally to asymmetrical subdivision of the beat“. (Borrowed from a very earnest Coltraneologist)

Right! “Preternatural velocity” Yeah! The term “Soul” is unhelpful, viewed through the retroscope. Soul Music is where Gospel met R&B: Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, none of these associations are helpful in defining the territory set out by “Soul Junction”. It’s about being “really hip” as Cannonball Adderley would delight  in saying, as opposed to “trying to be hip”. Soul Jazz is, well, just jazz true to its roots, before it wandered off into navel-gazing, courting the dance floor, or chasing the dollar in Hollywood. It is good listening jazz, played by great musicians, at the height of their powers. I can’t stop my head nodding left and right to the beat as Red swings dances and glides through his opening solo. This is jazz, it needs no Wikipedia definition.

Vinyl: first UK Esquire release of US Prestige 7181

redgarlandsouljunctionRed Garland is a fine bop pianist, and perfect foil for Byrd and Coltrane’s vigorous front line.

The music has nothing to do with trains, and everything to do with Red Garland. Not for the first time Esquire fail to come up to the mark of the fine record cover accompanying the original Prestige, opting instead for the visual weak play on words that too often passes for cover art.

At least they get the pressing right – original Van Gelder mastered US metalwork, a pressing with boots on.


(For Esquireologists: The Esquire rear sleeve exhibits the expected absence of price information, normal with the later numbers in their catalogue, and title information printed on the fold-over tab not the spine)

The sleeve has also fallen into the clutches of an Scotch Tape Fetishist, scourge of record collectors. So-called Scotch Tape (no Scots involved, honest) was invented in the 1930’s by 3M and quickly adopted as the (wrong) solution to insufficiently durable packaging.  However I am a fine one to talk. I recently looked over some of my early vinyl records from the Sixties, many of which – ahem – I had edged with Scotch tape. Pot, Kettle. No one thought what the sleeve would look like fifty years later…or indeed, ourselves.


Source: Ebay

Sellers Description: UK PRESSED LP ORIGINAL 1957
VINYL CONDITION: EXL- Minor surface marks.
SLEEVE CONDITION: GOOD. Corner ring and edge wear. Creasing. Laminate front, non- laminate flipback rear. Light marking and damage to top of rear.

It is always a pleasure to bank another fine Prestige recording without running the gauntlet of randomly dollar-pinching Prestige vinyl pressing, and the American  Fifties home music system. At least in Fifties class-divided Britain, you could rely on Alfred the Butler to change record sides competently.

5 thoughts on “Garland Coltrane Byrd: Soul Junction (1957) Esquire

  1. Exactly my thoughts, Joe L. I’m particularly thinking of the ‘High Pressure’ LP, which is a very good album. I first got to know Donald Byrd through his 70s catalogue, but in recent years it has been a pleasure to discover how great a hard bop musician he was.

  2. I have a very beat up copy of this that I stumbled upon when I was first collecting classic jazz early pressings. It still plays clear above a lot of noise, and with far less distortion than you would think. This is probably my favorite Byrd solo…we frequently don’t think much of the STRUCTURE of a solo, because, well, wouldn’t you rather just enjoy it? But on this particular solo, Byrd comes back to the same lick a few times in the first choruses (I believe this is the “please give up the booty” lick, not sure if that’s a well know “thing”) and also hits a longer note at the beginning of two different choruses…just kind of puts it all in a nice package.

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