Music » CD Reviews

John Coltrane

Live Trane: The European Tours (Pablo)

by

comment
Bebop trumpeter Art Farmer contended that concerts are showcases for the tried and true. Clubs, Farmer insisted, are where the "research and development" -- the searching and the unpredictable -- takes place. On Live Trane, a new seven-disc box culled from two European tours (November of 1961 and 1963), saxophonist John Coltrane and his bands both crush and reinforce that notion. The last certifiable jazz monolith and his classic quartet -- pianist McCoy Tyner, bassists Reggie Workman ('61) and Jimmy Garrison ('63), and drummer Elvin Jones (augmented by alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy for the first tour) -- burned as though tomorrow might never come.

Indeed, most of Live Trane's 36 tracks (19 of which were previously unreleased, making this collection a major issue) are played with the conviction that a major breakthrough will be achieved at the end of the piece. Hence, LeRoi Jones dubbed Trane "the hired assassin of bebop." Coltrane was probing for new possibilities, through chords, modes, and just plain sound. Dolphy proves a righteous foil, and his individual imprint (angular alto, lyrical flute) can be heard in Coltrane. The physicality of Coltrane's playing here is gargantuan, and the band plays against him as much as it does with him. When the equally physical Jones duets with Coltrane, the rhythmic results are wildly exhilarating. Tyner gets a "good soldier" award for his endless vamps on "Favorite Things," but elsewhere displays his singularly original conception. Seldom has a band worked at such a consistently transcendent level.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.