Another Side Of John Coltrane – Craft Recordings CR00093 (2021) 180-gram mono double vinyl, 88:14 *****:
Craft Recordings releases a glorious double vinyl featuring side work by iconic saxophonist John Coltrane.
(John Coltrane – tenor saxophone; Miles Davis – trumpet; Sonny Rollins – tenor saxophone; Art Taylor – drums; Thelonious Monk – piano; Todd Dameron – piano; Red Garland – piano; Donald Byrd – trumpet; Hank Mobley – tenor saxophone; Coleman Hawkins – tenor saxophone and many others)
Jazz aficionados differ on what was the greatest era of the genre. But the late 1950’s and early 1960’s significantly changed its direction and overall accessibility. After the unadulterated freneticism and relentless swing of bebop, musicians sought different styles and expressions. These included modal, cool, hard bop, free jazz and bossa nova. A new group of legends emerged with iconic albums, like Miles Davis (Kind Of Blue), Sonny Rollins (Saxophone Colossus), Thelonious Monk (Brilliant Corners), Dave Brubeck (Time Out) and John Coltrane (Giant Steps). There were many other game-changing releases in this period. Additionally, these larger-than-life figures often played on each other’s albums.
Craft Recordings has released a re-mastered double vinyl of John Coltrane’s contributions as a top-notch session player. Another Side Of John Coltrane is comprised of 13 tracks that incredibly were nearly all recorded in 1956 and 1957, for Prestige Records, Impulse Riverside and Jazzland. Side A opens with the historical title track of Sonny Rollins’ Tenor Madness. This is widely believed to be the only recording that features Rollins and Coltrane. The 12-minute hard bop opus is backed by a rhythm section of Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones Both saxophonists offer muscular, adroit solos, expressing their unique tonality and musical expression. At approximately the 8:20 mark, they engage in spirited exchanges that are simply compelling. Of course, as a Prestige album track, it is augmented by the pristine engineering of Rudy Van Gelder. This album boasts four Miles Davis-led cuts. The jazz standard, “‘Round Midnight” (from Miles Davis And The Jazz Giants, written by Thelonious Monk who is well represented on this project) has Davis articulating the melody with his sinewy, muted trumpet and transitioning to finger-snapping tempo. Coltrane puts hard-edged soul into his solo. The back and forth with Davis is compelling. This lineup swings on “Oleo” (after a false start). Chambers’ galloping double bass line propels the jam as Davis and Coltrane deliver performances that define hard bop. The melody line is based on Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm”.
Side B showcases a Miles Davis Quintet tune, “Airegin”. Amazingly, it is the third consecutive Rollins composition, and generates passionate solos from Coltrane and Davis that soar above the exotic structure of the rhythm section. Shifting to lyrical balladry, “Soultrane” (with Todd Dameron) displays a gossamer texture and innate understanding of musical structure. With syncopated flair, drummer Art Taylor (terrific drum fills) and Coltrane interact seamlessly in a straight-ahead arrangement (“C.T.A.”). Along with Davis, Monk is featured four times. “Monk’s Mood” is a significant part of jazz lore. This version (from Thelonious Monk Himself) is slowed-down and bluesy. After a lengthy master class on piano phrasing, Coltrane reflects the inherent melancholy in his sensitive execution. At the other end of the tempo spectrum, “Epistrophy” (from Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane) is edgier and thicker, with Coltrane and Coleman Hawkins on tenor, Gigi Gryce on alto, and Ray Cop[eland on trumpet. The inimitable Art Blakey is superb on drums. It is reminiscent of the unbridled bebop energy. Monk’s adroit phrasing and punctuated nuances make “Trinkle, Tinkle” compelling. Coltrane matches Monk’s creativity with stylish runs that are complementary and buoyant. He is equally adept at translating the challenging structures of Monk on “Nutty”.
The consistent quality of these various recordings is exemplary. Drawing on the bebop genius Dizzy Gillespie, Red Garland and his Quintet take on “Birks’ Works”. Here, Coltrane cuts loose on a freewheeling solo and is followed by trumpeter Donald Byrd and Garland. A second number form this session, “Billie’s Bounce” is hard-driving swing. Coltrane leads the way with an extended high-flying, intense solo. It has a full sound, approximating big band aesthetics. Garland’s piano is quick, nimble and bluesy cool. The finale is the landmark 1961 recording by Miles Davis of “Someday My Prince Will Come”. This song helped to define cool jazz. Transforming a pop ditty from Disney’s animated film Snow White And The Seven Dwarves to medium swing waltz-time is brilliant. Coltrane glows on tenor and helps in creating another unforgettable jazz moment. He is joined by a young Hank Mobley, who offers a different, mellower sound.
Craft Recordings has done an outstanding job in re-mastering these tracks to 180-gram vinyl. The new mix is vibrant and pristine. Another Side Of John Coltrane is a must for any jazz collection!
Side A: Tenor Madness; ‘Round Midnight; Oleo
Side B: Airegin; Soultrane; C.T.A.; Monk’s Mood
Side C: Epistrophy (Alternate Take); Trinkle, Tinkle; Nutty; Birks’ Works
Side D: Billie’s Bounce; Someday My Prince Will Come
For more information, please visit Craft Recordings website: