Jazz CD Reviews

The John Coltrane Songbook – Early Trane, The Composer Collection – Vol. 2 – High Note

Trane, the composer.

Published on September 21, 2008

The John Coltrane Songbook – Early Trane, The Composer Collection – Vol. 2 – High Note

The John Coltrane Songbook – Early Trane, The Composer Collection – Vol. 2 – High Note HCD 7189, 61:56 – Various Dates Compilation ****:

(Lead Artists: Arthur Blythe, saxophone; Larry Coryell, guitar; Frank Morgan, alto sax; Mike LeDonne, piano: Vincent Herring, Alto sax; Billy Hart, drums; David “Fathead” Newman, tenor sax; Carlos Garnett, tenor sax)

For many casual jazz fans, the iconic John Coltrane is most known for his tenor and soprano sax playing and his famous “sheets of sound” tone. Taken from us much too early, Trane has developed a mystique that intrigues the most casual fan, who just wants to broaden their musical tastes and sample the aura that John Coltrane elicits. However, Coltrane would never get his due as a gifted composer unless one seeks out his own compositions when building up a jazz CD collection.

High Note Records has compiled a tribute to Coltrane, the composer, from their own roster of current recording artists. Early Trane is dedicated to John’s early career, spanning from 1957-1962. During this period Coltrane was beginning his association with Miles Davis and just entering his more productive period as a recording leader. Since this CD is dedicated to Trane’s own compositions, we do not hear his most famous titles – Lush Life, My Favorite Things, Soul Eyes, etc. What we do get are both lesser-known tracks and also some songs that have become future classics – i.e. Naima, and Giant Steps.

What also makes this CD unique is the fact that High Note has not featured just saxophonists channeling Coltrane, but also pianists and guitarists as well. Larry Coryell has two tracks, and the late great Frank Morgan is featured twice. The sensitive side of Coltrane is featured on Mike LeDonne’s After the Rain, and Billy Hart’s quartet gets an “out” version of Moment’s Notice, with Mark Turner on tenor honking away. Surprisingly, avant stylist Arthur Blythe stays in the mainstream with Cousin Mary, a Trane track written for John’s cousin. A very compelling version of Equinox features some gorgeous piano from the recently passed John Hicks and deeply moving alto from Frank Morgan.

This CD would make a nice gift for a new Coltrane acolyte. Quality Trane compositions from an all-star cast of High Note roster artists….

TrackList: Cousin Mary, Like Sonny, Impressions, After the Rain, Straight Street, Moment’s Notice, Equinox, Up Against the Wall, Naima, Giant Steps

– Jeff Krow

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