LouisvillePrez

John Coltrane in 80 minutes?

45 posts in this topic

If you wanted to introduce someone to John Coltrane in only 80 minutes, how would you do it? Would you go the career-spanning route or focus on only one period or label? Would you include side work? Would you rule out some songs as “too long”? Would you focus on hits or lesser known things? Would you include other artists’ versions of his material?

I tried to answer the basic question of “John Coltrane in 80 minutes?” almost a decade ago for a friend who was a metal fan. This is what I made then, working with what I then had.

Straight Street, Coltrane (Prestige)

Out of This World, Coltrane (Impulse!)

Trane’s Blues, Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet

Why Was I Born? Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane

Impressions, Village Vanguard 11 3 & 5, 1961 (import)

One Down, One Up, One Down, One Up: Live at the Half Note

After the Rain, Impressions

I have been revisiting the question recently – with a larger collection from which to draw. Here is what I made back in December.

I Could Write a Book, Relaxin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet

Blue Monk, Thelonious Monk at Carnegie Hall

Giant Steps, Giant Steps

My Favorite Things, Part 1 (single version), Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology

Impressions, Impressions

Out of This World, Coltrane (Impulse!)

Alabama, Live at Birdland

Compassion, First Meditations

Living Space, Living Space

Anyone else want to suggest 80 minutes of John Coltrane?

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Specifically when it comes to Trane, I'm one of the least knowledgeable of the regulars around here -- but I'm sure glad to see "Alabama" included in the revised list.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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One of these collections needs to include Trane playing "Manhattan" with George Russell. The first few bars of his solo are one of the most startlingly fresh entries I think I've ever heard.

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I think it depends who your target audience is. I turned one person on by putting Ballads and Crescent on one cdr. He was just ready for that, had been exploring hardtop and also Coleman Hawkins on Impulse.

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Not nearly enough time, but I might try...

Song of the Underground Railroad (Africa Brass) (6:42)

Softly as in a Morning Sunrise (Live at the Village Vanguard) (6:39)

Equinox (Coltrane's Sound) (8:34)

Central Park West (Coltrane's Sound) (4:13)

Naima (Giant Steps) (4:24)

Afro Blue (Live at Birdland) (4:23)

Alabama (Live at Birdland) (5:13)

Tunji (Quartet Plays) (6:36)

The Last Blues (1965) (10:25)

Living Space (Infinity) (10:23)

Wise One (Crescent) (9:01)

Edited by kh1958

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I would start with "Acknowledgement", the cut that jump-started me into Coltrane and into jazz in general, then go chronologically through these favorites,and lament how much great music I had to leave out:

“Acknowledgement” 7:47

“Syeeda’s Song Flute” 7:01

‘Impressions” 15:05

“Out of This World” 14:01

“My Favorite Things” (Newport 1963) 17:36

“Afro-Blue” 10:49

“Alabama” 5:12

Edited by felser

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There must be an 80-minute Favorite Things from 1966. The one from Live in Japan is 57 minutes. :)

Seriously, I think that the suggestions here have been good. I would concentrate my selection on Impulse! and Prestige, as opposed to Atlantic. As for the exact mix, that would probably depend a lot, as Lon indicates, on the target audience.

Edited by John L

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There must be an 80-minute Favorite Things from 1966. The one from Live in Japan is 57 minutes. :)Seriously, I think that the suggestions here have been good. I would concentrate my selection on Impulse! and Prestige, as opposed to Atlantic. As for the exact mix, that would probably depend a lot, as Lon indicates, on the target audience.

Why Prestige rather than Atlantic? Sheets of sound?

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There must be an 80-minute Favorite Things from 1966. The one from Live in Japan is 57 minutes. :)Seriously, I think that the suggestions here have been good. I would concentrate my selection on Impulse! and Prestige, as opposed to Atlantic. As for the exact mix, that would probably depend a lot, as Lon indicates, on the target audience.

Why Prestige rather than Atlantic? Sheets of sound?

Personally, I find Coltrane's later work (1957-1958) for Prestige and his recordings for Impulse! to be two pinnacles of a very different sort, while Atlantic feels like a transition between the two. Ultimately, I find it less satisfying.

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There must be an 80-minute Favorite Things from 1966. The one from Live in Japan is 57 minutes. :)Seriously, I think that the suggestions here have been good. I would concentrate my selection on Impulse! and Prestige, as opposed to Atlantic. As for the exact mix, that would probably depend a lot, as Lon indicates, on the target audience.

Why Prestige rather than Atlantic? Sheets of sound?

Personally, I find Coltrane's later work (1957-1958) for Prestige and his recordings for Impulse! to be two pinnacles of a very different sort, while Atlantic feels like a transition between the two. Ultimately, I find it less satisfying.

I certainly agree that his growth during the Prestige years was absolutely stunning, that the Trane of 1958 was something very different from and superior to the Trane of 1955.

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There is great Coltrane from every period. I've made 7 or 8 playlists on my computer, mot of which have gone on to CDs.

To boil it down, these would be my choices:

  1. I See Your Face before Me
  2. Slow Dance
  3. Stella by Starlight (Miles)
  4. Naima
  5. Syeeda's Song Flute
  6. Spiritual
  7. Cousin Mary (live)
  8. Alabama
  9. Wise One
  10. Welcome
  11. After the Rain

--not an easy list

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Considering the range of music in Coltrane's catalog, I would go for a thematic presentation, rather than attempt to offer a full-career retrospective in 80 minutes. This will make the compilation valuable on its own terms, and would lend itself to repeated, continuous listening.

In light of this, I would probably focus on the hypnotic, modal grooves he did with the classic quartet. I would avoid both the post-bop and the later out stuff.

Why? Because if the listener doesn't know Coltrane, you can probably assume a limited experience with jazz overall. The hypnotic, modal, repetitive stuff lends itself to both focused listening and groovy chillout-background music. It works on a subliminal, subconscious level.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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Hm, my selection would surely include "My Favorite Things" in its original Altantic rendition ... and I guess one or two more, shorter cuts from that period.

And it would have to include a selection from the Carnegie Hall concert w/Monk - that, to me, sounds more like a pinnacle than most of what was committed to disc by Prestige (some of which is mighty fine, but I think I'd rather tend to see a fast development at Prestige and a first phase of consolidation/harvesting at Atlantic ... but I'm not up to the task of getting that playlist together right now, I'm afraid (not enough time to dig into all my Coltrane discs).

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Considering the range of music in Coltrane's catalog, I would go for a thematic presentation, rather than attempt to offer a full-career retrospective in 80s minutes. This will make the compilation valuable on its own terms, and would lend itself to repeated, continuous listening.

In light of this, I would probably focus on the hypnotic, modal grooves he did with the classic quartet. I would avoid both the post-bop and the later out stuff.

Why? Because if the listener doesn't know Coltrane, you can probably assume a limited experience with jazz overall. The hypnotic, modal, repetitive stuff lends itself to both focused listening and groovy chillout-background music. It works on a subliminal, subconscious level.

I connected with A Love Supreme long before Giant Steps and My Favorite Things, despite acquiring all three around the same time.

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Another day, another 80 minute selection:

1. Ruby My Dear (with Monk) (6:20)

2. Milestones (Miles Davis, Milestones) (5:46)

3. Fran Dance (Miles Davis, '58 Sessions) (5:51)

4. Russian Lullaby (Soultrane) (5:34)

5. Aiysha (Ole Coltrane) (7:39)

6. Slow Dance (Traning In) (5:27)

7. Focus on Sanity (The Avant-Garde) (12:15)

8. Dearly Beloved (Sun Ship) (6:34)

9. The Promise (Live at Birdland) (6:57)

10. Spiritual (Complete Village Vanguard) (20:41)

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I connected with A Love Supreme long before Giant Steps and My Favorite Things, despite acquiring all three around the same time.

I would place parts of "A Love Supreme" on my comp along with "My Favorite Things" and leave out "Giant Steps." Not sure what you mean.

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i'm not going to check the discography, but The Last Blues (1965) (10:25) timing is wrong, so you've got another 5min to play with.

not mentioned above:

'teo' with miles 1961

india from vanguard

mr. day or mr. knight from 'plays the blues'

ole

maybe 'peace on earth' from japan 1966

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i'm not going to check the discography, but The Last Blues (1965) (10:25) timing is wrong, so you've got another 5min to play with.

not mentioned above:

'teo' with miles 1961

india from vanguard

mr. day or mr. knight from 'plays the blues'

ole

maybe 'peace on earth' from japan 1966

You're right, so added Tunji.

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My first intro to Trane was My Favorite Things and I was hooked. As someone said, it depends on your target audience. If they don't like Favorite Things, they may not like Trane.

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My introduction to Coltrane, when I was coming out of rock listening, came as a result of the choices of a kindly and well informed record store clerk. He picked out a beginning jazz collection for me at my request. The collection included two Coltrane compilations:

a 2 LP Atlantic compilation, The Art of John Coltrane, which had on it: Syeeda's Song Flute, Aisha, Countdown, Mr. Knight, My Shining Hour, Blues to Bechet, The Invisible, My Favorite Things, Giant Steps, Central Park West, Like Sonny, Body and Soul,

and a 2 LP Impulse compilation, The Best of John Coltrane-His Greatest Years, which had Africa, Softly As in a Morning Sunrise, Soul Eyes, After the Rain, Afro Blue, Alabama, My Favorite Things (live), Bessie's Blues, Psalm (from A Love Supreme), the opening section of Kulu Se Mama, Naima (live, with Alice Coltrane and Rashied Ali), and the closing invocation from Om.

From that experience, I remember that I was very drawn to the catchiest songs, and the compelling slower songs. I was not ready for something like "Chasin' The Trane" at the Village Vanguard, at all.

My suggestions, which are not my favorite Coltrane recordings, or the Coltrane recordings which I think are "the best", but are instead the Coltrane recordings which I think a beginner might be drawn to, are as follows. It is really difficult to limit this to 80 minutes.

Central Park West

Giant Steps

Cousin Mary

Naima

My Favorite Things (all Atlantic)

After The Rain

Afro Blue

Alabama

In a Sentimental Mood

Wise One

Bessie's Blues

Acknowledgement (from A Love Supreme) (all Impuise)

If I had a second 80 minute disc, I would include:

Dakar (on Prestige)

Blue Train

Moment's Notice (from Blue Train, on Blue Note)

Syeeda's Song Flute

Mr. P.C.

Blues to Bechet

Equinox (on Atlantic)

Song for the Underground Railroad

Crescent

My Little Brown Book (on Impulse)

Again, these are not my favorite Coltrane recordings now, or "the best" of Coltrane. I am thinking of a pop music listener, who wants an introduction to Coltrane.

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Not going to attempt to make a list and by in large I agree with what's been posted but I can't believe no one has mentioned I Want To Talk About You in one of it's incarnations. Pretty definitive Coltrane IMHO.

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My first intro to Trane was My Favorite Things and I was hooked. As someone said, it depends on your target audience. If they don't like Favorite Things, they may not like Trane.

Most likelyiIf they don't like the Atlantic "My Favorite Things", they won't like jazz. It's about as universal as you can get.

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Again, these are not my favorite Coltrane recordings now, or "the best" of Coltrane. I am thinking of a pop music listener, who wants an introduction to Coltrane.

If I may press a question, do we sell non-jazz listeners short by not wanting to introduce them to the best -- even if we think that the best may be intimidating, difficult, etc.?

At the end of the day, music is people doing things to other things to make sounds - sounds to which other people listen and respond. One thing that I have always appreciated about AG work is how it often drives home just this point -- which makes AG music really accessible. Put another way, I have often found that people one expect to like KOB only, when it comes to jazz, can really enjoy more if pointed in good directions.

I have to admit my own self interestedness in all of this. When I have wanted to introduce people to Coltrane (not sure about whether I intend to "convert," but that is another question), I try to go for some sort of career retrospective thing. My Coltrane collection, however, is really slim in the post-classic quartet department. When I originally wrote this question, I was curious if/what "late period" Coltrane might show up. I have Stellar Regions and Meditations, and that is it (and I like First Meditations better than Meditations).

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I try to go for some sort of career retrospective thing.

That works for some artists but not others. If we are talking about a single Coltrane CD, I would not want a CD that includes both "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "A Love Supreme" on the same disc. The OP would do better to do a stylistic compilation that will work as an album. If the disc includes such a wide range of music that there is no cohesive flow, the recipient will probably end up using the disc as a coaster.

IMO.

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