Monday, May 8, 2017

John Coltrane - 1966 [1970] "Coltrane Plays The Blues"

 Coltrane Plays the Blues is an album credited to jazz musician John Coltrane, released in 1962 on Atlantic Records, catalogue SD 1382. It was recorded at Atlantic Studios during the sessions for My Favorite Things, assembled after Coltrane had stopped recording for the label and was under contract to Impulse Records. Like Prestige Records before them, as Coltrane's fame grew during the 1960s, Atlantic used unissued recordings and released them without either Coltrane's input or approval.

Coltrane's sessions for Atlantic in late October 1960 were prolific, yielding the material for My Favorite Things, Coltrane Plays the Blues, and Coltrane's Sound. My Favorite Things was destined to be the most remembered and influential of these, and while Coltrane Plays the Blues is not as renowned or daring in material, it is still a powerful session. As for the phrase "plays the blues" in the title, that's not an indicator that the tunes are conventional blues (they aren't). It's more indicative of a bluesy sensibility, whether he is playing muscular saxophone or, on "Blues to Bechet" and "Mr. Syms," the more unusual sounding (at the time) soprano sax. Elvin Jones, who hadn't been in Coltrane's band long, really busts out on the quicker numbers, such as "Blues to You" and "Mr. Day." [Some reissues add five bonus tracks: two alternates apiece of "Blues to Elvin" and "Blues to You," and "Untitled Original (Exotica)." All three were recorded on October 24, 1960.]

An under-appreciated album in the Coltrane discography. I would argue that Mr. Knight is probably the "coolest" song Coltrane ever recorded, meaning that it still sounds fresh and innovative even today. Coltrane's playing on this album is not as muscular as some of his other albums, nor as beautiful as on 'Ballads' or 'with Johnny Hartman', but its some where in-between, and that is what makes it great. I think this some of the quartet's finest work. 

These recordings come from the same sessions that produced 1961's My Favorite Things. This is one of the least well know Coltrane albums, partly because it is an all blues format and partly because it was released at the end of his association with Atlantic records.
Plays The Blues features the talents of McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Steve Davis. It is the beginning of his work with Tyner and Jones in quartet form. For that alone this recording would be important.
Although this album is called Plays The Blues, this is by no means the only blues which Coltrane plays. There are blues elements, moods and feelings in all of his best-known recordings. Listen to "Slowtrane," "Blue Train," "Bessie's Blues" among others and one can't help but hear the blues vibe.
The original six tracks are fantastic and have that same blues vibe. They hit the listener right in the heart and soul and don't let go. All six are superb, but "Blues To Bechet," "Mr. Day," "Mr. Knight" and "Blues To Elvin" are absolute classics.

Track Listings:

  1. Blues To Elvin
  2. Blues To Bechet
  3. Blues To You
  4. Mr. Day
  5. Mr. Syms
  6. Mr. Knight
  7. Untitled Origional (Bonus Track For CD Only)

Personnel:

    John Coltrane — soprano saxophone on "Blues to Bechet" and "Mr. Syms"; tenor saxophone on all others
    McCoy Tyner — piano
    Steve Davis — bass
    Elvin Jones — drums

3 comments:

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  2. Looks mighty tasty, thank you for sharing!

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