(Tadd Dameron, piano; John Coltrane, tenor sax; John Simmons, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums)
Concord Records has made a wise decision in adding Mating Call to its roster of RVG Remasters. Its historical significance makes the release a special occasion. Dameron was a brilliant composer and arranger and Coltrane was just coming into his own after playing with Miles Davis, and was a year or so away from leading his own sessions when this album was recorded.
Dameron has always been known as a romantic composer and Mating Call has many “romantic” moments. The title track has a Caribbean feel and Coltrane plays with composure with his signature sound still developing. Tadd’s low key solos belie his creative arrangements as he is not a flashy player and his charts do not put him at center stage. Gnid features Coltrane in a lyrical light with Tadd’s accompaniment towards the back of the mix. He’s comfortable letting John take center stage with Philly Joe trading lines with both leaders. Soultrane, written for John and later recorded as an album title for Coltrane in Feb. of 1958, is very soulful and all the other members of the quartet take a back seat for John to blow. Dameron’s own solos here are very light with a sweetness that is elegant.
On a Misty Night, one of Dameron’s most famous compositions has Coltrane giving the familiar melody a very soulful rendition and he just barely breaks out with his signature Coltrane tone. Simmons, on bass, is rock steady with his rhythmic playing and Dameron comes out of his shell just a bit mid-track. Romas, a strictly blues number, uses minimal notes a la Basie, to convey its soulfulness. When Coltrane enters near the three minute mark he plays with restraint, not overwhelming the blues feel that Tadd sets up. Tadd has as much of a leader role here as on anything else on the album.
Super Jet definitely picks up the pace and puts Coltrane back fully in charge. Philly Joe’s cymbal work drives the tune as well. Van Gelder’s remastering done in 2007 is as low key as any I’ve heard in the RVG Remaster series. Rudy seems content not to attempt to “brighten up” the mix and those that expect a dramatic change from earlier issues will be disappointed. Even Philly Joe’s extended solo on Super Jet has not been overtly brought forward. That is the way it was recorded on the original mix and Rudy wisely leaves well enough alone.
This session has had several editions in the past, some with Coltrane listed as album leader. Though his playing is dominant on the album, it is more the modesty of composer Dameron than the dominance of Coltrane that makes it fitting that these two jazz giants be listed as co-leaders. After all, it is Dameron who provides the classic arrangements for Coltrane to take center stage.
TrackList: Mating Call, Gnid, Soultrane, On a Misty Night, Romas, Super Jet
– Jeff Krow