Friday, June 25, 2010

Michael Fremer Album Review

John Coltrane (reissue)

impulse/ORG 018 180g LPs

Produced by: Bob Thiele
Engineered by: Rudy Van Gelder
Mixed by: Rudy Van Gelder
Mastered by: Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering

Review by: Michael Fremer

This very limited double 45rpm set should have sold out within weeks of its release but that probably didn’t happen.

Here the classic quartet featuring Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison explore Coltrane’s more lyrical side on “Wise One” and “Lonnie’s Lament,” (where McCoy Tyner gets some space to block out), the struggling Coltrane on the searching title tune and the light, swinging, foot-tapping retro-saxophonist on “Bessie’s Blues.” “Drum Thing” turns the set over to Elvin Jones.

These numbers are played as if live in a club and when “Wise One” ends you expect the audience to begin clapping their approval. Some people, having heard some later Coltrane honk-fests run scared beyond the Prestige albums. This one hits a sweet spot heavy in both invention and innovation and swinging lyricism. You cannot go wrong with this classic, that is, as Net Hentoff’s notes suggest, a summation of Coltrane circa 1964, an artist not likely to march in place for long.

Coincidentally, one of the two sessions here was recorded June 1st 1964, 46 years to the day I write this. Coltrane is quoted in the notes as saying “I don’t know what I’m looking for.” There’s some of that searching here and much summation.

“The main thing a musician would like to do is to give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things he knows of and senses in the universe.” That came some time later.

Rudy Van Gelder’s recording shows that the “Blue Note sound” was a reverberant creation for that label. Here the sound is drier, more focused and far less atmospheric. Yet some of Van Gelder’s spatial and tonal sonic signatures pop through. The piano sound is so-so and the spatial assignments somewhat arbitrary. However, tonally and texturally the sound of this Bernice Grundman mastering is superb.

The liner notes repeat the original’s “it is his Jones’…” liner notes typo. In the interest of authenticity I guess that’s what you do. The packaging and sound are true physically and otherwise to the original, though better turned out and definitely better sounding on two 45rpm 180g perfectly pressed LPs.

Thanks to Michael over at  for the exclusive rights to reprint this material.

Copyright © 2008 & Michael Fremer - All rights reserved Reprinted by Permission

No comments: