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John Coltrane – Coltrane – Prestige (1957)/ Analogue Productions (mono)

John Coltrane – Coltrane – Prestige (1957)/ Analogue Productions mono SACD CPRJ 7105 SA, 41:27 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] **** (music only):

(John Coltrane – tenor saxophone; Paul Chambers – bass; Red Garland – piano; “Tootie” Heath – drums; Sahib Shihab – baritone sax; Johnny Splawn – trumpet; Mal Waldron – piano)

So you just heard that Analogue Productions is remastering a catalog of 50 rare, collectible titles from Prestige on SACD and you are starting to make your list of which ones to pick up.  All of them are hybrid discs and in the case of this one, comes straight from the original mono masters.  The packaging has the original LP artwork both front and back and the disc has the artwork from the record label—super cool!

First off, let me say if you are new to jazz or even to Coltrane then there are probably a few other records you’d want to pick up before this one.  Even with that said, this is an excellent record with Coltrane’s instantly recognizable horn sound front and center (and yes I realize this is a monaural record).  The band is filled with star performers as well—all in their prime.  And, if you like what they are doing here, you’ll probably want to investigate other music from Garland, Chambers and Waldron.

The late ‘50s sound is present in spades and though there is some meandering from a relatively strict melody it is nothing be scared of (like some of Coltrane’s more adventurous work later in his career).  In fact, this is his first record as leader and the music should never be relegated to background listening; clearly, from the first note the recording expects the listener to be active and engaged.  The same can be said about some of the mellower tunes which still offer a lot to “think” about.

I could go on and on about the music, but the fact is…it’s all fantastic from quiet, introspective (i.e.”While My Lady Sleeps”) to the hard bop of “Straight Street” and “Chronic Blues.”  Yes, the second half I favor over the first, but the mellow “Violets for Your Furs” should not be ignored.

I noticed a single review of this title on Amazon with mention of audio dropouts that marred their enjoyment of the record.  They also pointed out that there is no notification/technical notes on the recording mentioning this.  I agree and heard at one such drop out on track four at 3:53.  I listened to the CD layer and it was there as well.  My standard CD of this recording has no such issue, so I’m not sure what it is about.  It’s hard to justify buying an audiophile recording when there are issues like this.  My standard CD sounds a bit “splashy” so you could argue the sound of the remaster is better.  Perhaps those accustomed to the imperfections of vinyl might be more tolerant of such a problem, but we digital folk are all about “perfect sound forever!”

TrackList: Bakai; Violets for Your Furs; Time Was; Straight Street; While My Lady Sleeps; Chronic Blues.

—Brian Bloom

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