Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Hardbopjazz

John Coltrane Documentary coming to theaters everywhere.

49 posts in this topic

While I can accept Jim's arguments about the profundity of Pharaoh Sanders playing with late Trane, my ear is still very much with felser.  Somehow, I really do not enjoy listening to Sanders with Trane.   I do like Sanders later work quite a bit, from Impulse! on up.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, jazzbo said:

 

But Elveen. . . sheesh. Still I don't think Elveen was willing to go where Trane was going and knew it.

No, he had absolutely no intention going down that road. Neither did McCoy. I actually think you can hear that as early as the Newport date that year. The version of MFT they did sounded like the musical equivilent of a gun fight! Then the augmented group on the Seattle date a few months later. Both McCoy and Tyner had all but completely checked out by then. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/31/2017 at 2:11 PM, Scott Dolan said:

Those are excellent points, Jim. 

As for the former, I can live with "dense". It's still just too messy to contend with, IMO. A 55 minute MFT simply has no redeeming qualities that I've ever found. There IS good music from that album (4CDs, IIRC), but it just seems like you have to wade through too much "filler" to get to it. Though, I will readily admit that it's been 16 or 17 years since I've sat down with it. Perhaps another spin is in order. God help me...

The latter is absolutely spot on. When I read that I shouted in my mind, "I coulda had a V8!!" Now, outside of The Father And The Son And The Holy Ghost which opens Meditations, the two aren't that radically different. Even with Pharaoh in tow. 

That said, your suggestion also brought to mind that Live In Seattle might also be a good "crossover" point. Closer to the late quintet than the Classic Quartet, but at least the fab four are all present for the dates. So there's a TON of tension there with all of the push/pull involved with Coltrane looking to break away while his rhythm section didn't seem all that eager to follow along. 

Re Japan, I think "bloated" is closer to my thinking than "dense".  (Though I prefer "unfocused" or "diffuse", and probably like it better than Scott.)  I feel like there is a lot of wandering when nothing is happening, like the group wasn't caught on its best day(s).

Re Seattle, I also think it's a mixed bag.  The opening track is magnificent - the raucous saxophone choir on top of the burning Tyner-Garrison-Jones rhythm section is thrilling.  A great glimpse at a path-not-taken.  Some of the longer performances I'm less crazy about.

On 5/31/2017 at 3:20 PM, JSngry said:

Yeah, the Seattle stuff has grown on me over the years. There was a tree-d set of 3 CDs called Sweet Potato Pie which was 2.5 discs of 65 Half Note broadcasts (and everybody who takes Coltrane seriously as "pure music" needs to absorb that stuff, imo), and then, after a 22+ minute Half Note MFT, it shifts to, I think, the opening night broadcast from The Penthouse, and it's like, whoa, the Half Note shit was already ON it, right, but this is like, if your brain could talk like your voice did when you inhaled helium, this would be that, musically, Just...INSTANT New World, atoms being split Right Before Your Ears, Big Bang BOOM!!!! type stuff. It's the kind of thing that I, as somebody who essentially started with Transition and then went both ways with Trane as immediately as possible, needs to hear every once in a while to really get how...upset (in both senses) Coltrane and his bands were getting to people hearing it in real time,. Jesus, Ayler was such a breakthrough (and Trane knew it, embraced it, needed it for his own self), Cecil too, that quantum math, but Coltrane, it seems like he suddenly velocitized out from Extreme Newtonian to Raw Quantum without really knowing exactly how - or if - he was going to land this sucker. Or even if there was a place to land it at all.

...In the meantime...in hindsight, it seems inevitable that this (Half Note 65 again) was not going to be the end for Coltrane, but god, if it would have been, it would have still been a case of ending at a unbelievably high point. But no, this was a booster rocket for the next stage. Faith, trust, naivete,whatever it was...most people just do not do this type of thing, not just musically, but as life, period. Ever.

The "Creation" track that JSngry posted - from the Half Note, 1965 - is one of the best Classic Quartet tracks out there, full stop.

20 hours ago, Scott Dolan said:

Very interesting observations. I'm with you on much of what you've stated, with a couple of caveats:

1. I actually didn't mind Pharaoh with Trane. Would I have been perfectly content had he not been in the group? Absolutely. But I didn't find his playing "horrifying". Perhaps a little much, but...

I'm in this camp too.  I don't mind when he's playing, but would trade that in a heartbeat for more Coltrane playing.  And I find Pharoah's playing with Don Cherry around the same time to be more satisfying, probably because Don provides more contrast.

1 hour ago, Scott Dolan said:

No, he had absolutely no intention going down that road. Neither did McCoy. I actually think you can hear that as early as the Newport date that year. The version of MFT they did sounded like the musical equivilent of a gun fight! Then the augmented group on the Seattle date a few months later. Both McCoy and Tyner had all but completely checked out by then. 

So I've agreed with you thus far, Scott, but this is a road too far. :)

When I listen to SUN SHIP or FIRST MEDITATIONS, I hear a rhythm section that's 100% engaged and committed to making very radical music.  If they're uncomfortable, I don't hear it.  I'm not sure if Elvin and McCoy would have hung around if Coltrane had kept exploring in the quartet format, but it's not inconceivable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sun Ship and First Meditations are my two favorite Jazz albums...ever. My point was that I could hear seeds of discontent during that Newport date. Nothing more. Hell, even Meditations ended up being pretty good. His '65 output with the Classic Quartet remains my favorite in recorded music. But they were hanging together by a thread, and that's likely what made it so great. Kinda like The Beatles when they recorded Abbey Road. 

You know who I would have liked to hear playing with Coltrane instead of Sanders, Archie Shepp. It just feels like he would have kept things slightly more..."grounded", without completely weighing it down. I mean, I hear Jim loud and clear on what Pharoah was doing. It just never completely sat well with my ears. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, Shepp...he definitely had the emotional chops to hang with that band, but I don't think he had the saxophone chops, not to be a regular member. Probably too "inside baseball" but you can really here the types of things that both Trane and Pharoah were shedding on, very specific, and very much a linear evolution technical schematic. Archie could play, for sure, but not like that, at least not yet.

Again, probably too "inside baseball", but the overtone manipulations that those guys were working with, and the evenness and purity (sic) of tone across the whole range of the horn, from very bottom to waaaay above the "normal" top end, and the cleanliness at which they negotiated all of it...Archie had not gotten there yet, not even close.

Which probably does mean that he would have brought a different level of "realness" to that band. But Trane was soooo immersed in physics and math and how they worked as it pertained to his music, that...I don't know if would have been as comfortable a fit over the long haul.

For all this music, though...the longer it exists as history, the more I come to evaluate it azs history, objectively. It can still raise my hair, and does (oh god yes it does), but..."how did they do this" increasingly becomes more a matter of science than of mystery. And that's kinda fun, really, because then you can not worry about if you "like" it or not, that's really no longer the point, that's just a choice, a personal subjective choice. We can worry about "points" as they pertain after the facts instead of before and during.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, I'm not saying he would have been a perfect fit. I just think his style would have created somewhat of a touchstone, bridging the old with the new. Because perhaps the downside of that group WAS all of the "new". 

Shepp's tone would have provided a nice counter-balance, as well. 

Not saying it would have worked, but I would have enjoyed finding out. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, why Pharoah might be wearing for some people...he had one aspect of the horn down at least as good as Trane (possibly more good), the overtone/tone/range part. But what he did not yet have was the macro-awareness of harmony and form that Trane did. Trane was improvising structurally, developmentally, his "free improvisations" flow more like a classical composition than a "typical jazz improvisation". It's his and the band's cultural contexts and musical genomes that make this music "jazz", a lot more than the actual/transcribable content.

Trane had absorbed Bartok for crissakes, Bartok and raga and Monk and Bird and church and god knows what else. Pharoah did not have that depth of macro-absorption, which is not at all a disparagement, I mean jeesus, how many people alive in any world could, not but a few, right? You got Beethoven, and then you got how many other people in the world, even some great ones, but how may really....macro-people? Not many, right? Just saying Pharoah never runs out of chops, but he could be kinda Sonny Stitty and get to a zone where idea walls are hit and emotional projection is what's going to get it over or not, and emotional anything by definition becomes very subjective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What us layfolk called "maturity". Trane sounded like a learned professor, while Pharoah sounded like a kid that didn't have all that much to say, but goddamn if he didn't say it gusto! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of guys who came up in that "post-Trane" vibe were obviously not fully formed (which is why the NEXT thing, the AACM esthetic was so grabbing, it WAS, if not fully extrapolated, fully formed), but you can tell now, rather easily, who had more on their mind than just "in the moment". Pharoah and Archie both were like that, I can go with them because I can feel them wanting to keep going past that moment. Some others...maybe not so much. It's a beautiful moment to be in, but a moment ends up being all it is.

To the point of that Kiermeyer album....it's pretty unlike other post-Trane Pharoah records in that he brings all of it, unfiltered. It's a lot to bring, and it's everything he had with Trane plus everything he didn't yet have. A lot of people get happy being in one place, this guy knew he had more work to do, work that maybe would not have gotten record deals and such, but dammit, he did it, even if it's still not going to be what gets him record deals and such. Gotta love a guy that works like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had not heard this "Creation" track before. Very cool. I wonder why it was left off of the relatively "recent" (man, 2005) release of the Half Note stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Attended the documentary last night. Well done. Recommended

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any idea if this documentary will be playing in Europe? (and wondering the same about the Lee Morgan film).

I second the thanks for the Pharoah tracks, great to hear!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw the documentary last night. I can't say I was wowed, but maybe that's because so much of the story I was already familiar with (as, I imagine, most of the posters here are too). The home movie footage was a delight, but it seemed that the documentary leaned a little too heavily on shaping Coltrane as some kind of spiritual soothsayer or musical mystic. The idea of mysticism, to me, often undermines the incredible amount of labor (hours upon hours of practice) that is responsible for creating a larger-than-life figure. I think Coltrane would have felt very uncomfortable being regarded as some type of American guiding light.

I noticed that, in more than one of the Japan tour photos, Coltrane is holding a violin case. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

this documentary was shown on PBS in NYC last night.

Nothing new really except some pictures and home movies that I had not seen before and were quite touching.

On the negative side....a little Cornell West goes a long way....too long in my opinion....each of his words weighs a ton....and then there's Wynton.

Surprisingly good were comments by former Doors drummer John Densmore and Benny Golson (well not really surprising in his case)

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Imagine if John Gilmore became Trane's second tenor. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Michael Weiss said:

Imagine if John Gilmore became Trane's second tenor. 

Intriguing thought ....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always wondered to what extent Coltrane was familiar with Gilmore's playing. Some of the extended techniques that Gilmore was using circa 1959/60 show up in Coltrane's playing around The Village Vanguard sessions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Late said:

I've always wondered to what extent Coltrane was familiar with Gilmore's playing. Some of the extended techniques that Gilmore was using circa 1959/60 show up in Coltrane's playing around The Village Vanguard sessions.

Some earlier discussion:

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that link — I missed that discussion the first time around. Ten years ago!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw it last october in a music documentary festival in Barcelona.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad I saw it, the show was sold out quickly (I had a reservation), a small theater with 110+ seats, and will get me a DVD of this later this year. A good job, but I could have done without Wynton Marsalis' general appreciation blurb. I'd rather have seen some interview segments with Jimmy Cobb, Pharoah Sanders, or some saxophonists from the next generation avant garde scene he influenced, or Gary Bartz, who also caught him live. 

You can't anything but love Benny Golson and Jimmy Heath for their statements!

Edited by mikeweil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 17/01/2018 at 9:57 AM, mikeweil said:

You can't anything but love Benny Golson and Jimmy Heath for their statements!

Yes, that's true. I also thought it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.