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ghost of miles

Coltrane '58: The Prestige Recordings

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39 minutes ago, Big Beat Steve said:

Good points, but the Discogs listing of the "Historical" series is a HUGE mess. They haphazardly mix the US Prestige and German Bellaphon releases (and other pressings of the same LP) instead of listing them as different pressings of one and the same release/reissue, as they (correctly) do with other LPs. .This would have given a much better overview as each release would have appeared only once in the listing linked above. BTW, the listing is still incomplete. "Trumpet Jive" feat. Rex Stewart and Wingy Manone (PR7812/BJS40159) is missing, for example.

I'm with you here - I linked this listing only to give some examples for others who are not so familiar with the label's history. The problem with discogs is that they have no personnel supervising the listings, it is the decision of each member posting a release to classify it as a new version of an existing release or an independent issue - if they are not discographically inclined and check other entries such duplicate/triplicate etc. listings are bound to happen. 

That said, the issue/reissue policy of Prestige was just another mess, in some respects. It seems that every generation of reissue compilers did not give a damn what had been done before them and never did any serious research. After the publication of Ruppli/Porter's label discography it was easy, although even that is not without mistakes and omissions, but I doubt that the label executives had a copy at hand. 

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One is not supposed to like Trane's Prestige recordings, but I defiantly love them all. Furthermore, their existence does not push his later recordings aside.

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1 hour ago, Shrdlu said:

One is not supposed to like Trane's Prestige recordings, but I defiantly love them all. Furthermore, their existence does not push his later recordings aside.

I find them very instructive, and really enjoy the sheets of sound approach that he developed in that period.  Coltrane in 1955 and Coltrane in 1958 are two very different things (just as Coltrane in 1961 and Coltrane in 1964 and Coltrane in 1966 are also very different things yet).

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43 minutes ago, felser said:

I find them very instructive, and really enjoy the sheets of sound approach that he developed in that period.  Coltrane in 1955 and Coltrane in 1958 are two very different things (just as Coltrane in 1961 and Coltrane in 1964 and Coltrane in 1966 are also very different things yet).

I actually think the bigger contrast was ‘63 to ‘65. 

Naturally I prefer his Atlantic and Impulse! output, but I can still dig the Prestige material. Though I’m near as big on Blue Train as many are, outside of the title track. 

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33 minutes ago, Scott Dolan said:

I actually think the bigger contrast was ‘63 to ‘65. 

Naturally I prefer his Atlantic and Impulse! output, but I can still dig the Prestige material. Though I’m near as big on Blue Train as many are, outside of the title track. 

Understood.  Years don't break down as neatly as we'd like.  The beginning of 1965 was one thing, the end of 1965 (with Pharoah Sanders in tow and Tyner/Jones headed for the door to be replaced by Alice/Ali) was something very different.  "Coltrane Quartet Plays" is a long way from "Meditations" or "Om", and they're all 1965.  I tried to just pick something on each side of that divide for making the argument.

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Trane's sheets-of-sound stuff from his Prestige days, really pushes a LOT of nice buttons in my brain.  The performances aren't a epic in terms of scope, and arrangement -- but Trane's playing specifically is really wonderful.

TOTAL sacrilege to say this, I realize, but I've occasionally wondered what a few of Trane's later Atlantic albums might have sounded like, with that earlier approach.  Not pining for that, mind you, but just wondering what that would have sounded like with the more static harmonic contexts, and the McCoy/Reggie/Elvin trio backing him.

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11 minutes ago, Rooster_Ties said:

...I've occasionally wondered what a few of Trane's later Atlantic albums might have sounded like, with that earlier approach.  Not pining for that, mind you, but just wondering what that would have sounded like with the more static harmonic contexts, and the McCoy/Reggie/Elvin trio backing him.

What does this mean, exactly? Not sure I understand?

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2 hours ago, felser said:

Understood.  Years don't break down as neatly as we'd like.  The beginning of 1965 was one thing, the end of 1965 (with Pharoah Sanders in tow and Tyner/Jones headed for the door to be replaced by Alice/Ali) was something very different.  "Coltrane Quartet Plays" is a long way from "Meditations" or "Om", and they're all 1965.  I tried to just pick something on each side of that divide for making the argument.

All fair points. I tend to forget that Meditations and Live In Seattle were also recorded in '65 due to the Pharoah effect, which automatically makes me think '66. But you are absolutely correct. I realize there is no way to draw a line of demarcation in that year, but I always seem to have Plays/Transition/Sun Ship/First Meditations/New Thing At Newport on one side, and Om/Ascension/Live In Seattle/Meditations on the other. Classic Quartet vs not Classic Quartet, I suppose. 

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9 minutes ago, Scott Dolan said:

All fair points. I tend to forget that Meditations and Live In Seattle were also recorded in '65 due to the Pharoah effect, which automatically makes me think '66. But you are absolutely correct. I realize there is no way to draw a line of demarcation in that year, but I always seem to have Plays/Transition/Sun Ship/First Meditations/New Thing At Newport on one side, and Om/Ascension/Live In Seattle/Meditations on the other. Classic Quartet vs not Classic Quartet, I suppose. 

Totally with you on all of that.

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

What does this mean, exactly? Not sure I understand?

Probably not my first uncomprehendible idea like this. :P  Bear in mind, I'm not steeped in Trane, so I'm admittedly I'm talking outside of an actual ear-informed area of knowledge (meaning I know my Trane history, better than I really know his music.  I've heard a bunch of Trane from all eras here and there over the years.  But it's all been scattershot, and NOT repeated intensive listening either.

I've got all the Prestige material -- all three of those leader/collaborator/sideman organized sets.  I *LOVE* the fluidity of Trane's sheets-of-sound type playing on so much of the Prestige material.  But the material itself isn't as weighty; most of it not seeming or intending to be "bigger" statements.  To my ears, on the Prestige material Trane's tone is lighter, and less "in your face"; less "insistent".

The Atlantic stuff is mostly a bit weightier, certainly in Trane's tone -- more 'aching' at times -- like he's always reaching for things.  I don't know how to describe it.  It's also more rhythmically complex too (iirc), the Atlantic stuff -- his soloing specifically.  Whereas the sheet-of-sound is more fluid.

To be clear, I'm NOT trying to get into one being 'better' or 'worse'.  "More fluid" is just a way of saying what I hear, not that it's "better".

But I think(?) it would be interesting to hear that greater fluidity mixed-up with the type of material that Trane was playing with the his Atlantic quartet.  I know (or suppose) that not all of his "sheets-of-sound" sound is abandoned during the Atlantic years -- but to my ears, the tone and weight in his playing is definitely different.

I'm really talking way outside of my area of expertise here, I'll fully admit.  Total respect for everything Trane did, but I never got bitten hard by the Trane bug (I'm afraid).

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19 minutes ago, Rooster_Ties said:

 

I've got all the Prestige material -- all three of those leader/collaborator/sideman organized sets.  I *LOVE* the fluidity of Trane's sheets-of-sound type playing on so much of the Prestige material.  But the material itself isn't as weighty; most of it not seeming or intending to be "bigger" statements.  To my ears, on the Prestige material Trane's tone is lighter, and less "in your face"; less "insistent".

 

I believe what you're getting at is that you wonder what the "sheets of sound" would have been like when applied to the greater rhythmic freedom that Tyner, Garrison, and Jones provided? 

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Would you consider the impulse! tone to be more in line with the Prestige tone? Wondering how much of the perceived difference might be to how Rudy recorded him vs how Atlantic recorded him? Otherwise, sure, he was evolving.

I'm of the opinion that the whole "sheets of sound" thing is more useful as a non-musical statement of listener impression than as an actual objective statement of musical practice. As it pertains to this point, the Atlantic era began with Bags/Trane & Giant Steps and then went on in sessions then sessions could be released totally out of "real time" sequence.. If you want to hear what was really happening is the music, you gotta break it down into individual sessions, that's the true context of how the music was evolving. And there, you will hear plenty of "sheets of sound" type playing. The one that comes to mind most immediately is "Summertime", my lord, sheets, sheets, and more sheets. "Syeeda's Song Flute" too, stuff like that.

Also, have you hear the Roulette half-album?

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28 minutes ago, Scott Dolan said:

I believe what you're getting at is that you wonder what the "sheets of sound" would have been like when applied to the greater rhythmic freedom that Tyner, Garrison, and Jones provided? 

Well, it was, wasn't it? Not as entire solos, but lord have mercy, there would be those long runs tht didn't stop (and often used the harmonic substitutions gleaned form both the "3-on-1" and the "Giant Steps" explorations.

Again, taking a critically-created descriptive term like "sheets of sound" and applying it to rational/objective musical anaylsis (or never mind analysis, just simple paying attention to what is actually being played!), it's a disservice to all, really. Didn't Ira Gitler coin that term? And he was just looking for a verbal way to convey his feelings about how Trane was beginning to play. He wasn't doing actual musical analysis, like, who was it, oh god, I can't remember her name...Zora, Zito, KitranoI am sorry...CRS kicking in.

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26 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Would you consider the impulse! tone to be more in line with the Prestige tone? Wondering how much of the perceived difference might be to how Rudy recorded him vs how Atlantic recorded him? Otherwise, sure, he was evolving.

I'm of the opinion that the whole "sheets of sound" thing is more useful as a non-musical statement of listener impression than as an actual objective statement of musical practice. As it pertains to this point, the Atlantic era began with Bags/Trane & Giant Steps and then went on in sessions then sessions could be released totally out of "real time" sequence.. If you want to hear what was really happening is the music, you gotta break it down into individual sessions, that's the true context of how the music was evolving. And there, you will hear plenty of "sheets of sound" type playing. The one that comes to mind most immediately is "Summertime", my lord, sheets, sheets, and more sheets. "Syeeda's Song Flute" too, stuff like that.

Also, have you hear the Roulette half-album?

Almost half his Atlantic output  ('My Favorite Things'. "Plays The Blues', 'Sound" and a stray cut on 'Jazz') was cut the same week in October 1960, then released as late as 1964.  I like that Roulette session quite a bit.   

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Dammit, I can't think of the name of the lady who posted that astute analysis of the "Blue Train" solo in Jazz Review...lifeline, please?

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Zita Carno.

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57 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Well, it was, wasn't it?

Technically, yes. But I assumed since he mentioned Tyner, Garrison, and Jones he was likely hinting at the final incarnation of the Quartet that wasn't truly cemented until, what, '62? Just trying to cut the cat a break since he admittedly isn't as experienced with Coltrane and his bands as some of us. So he is perhaps mistaking the Atlantic years with the Impulse! 

Just a thought. 

And if that IS the case, then what he's getting at does make a lot more sense. The different iterations that he played with during the Atlantic years were not only different, but the overall approach was also. So perhaps if the question is how the "sheets of sound" approach would have blended with, say, the Classic Quartet from '62-'65, well then you've got something pretty interesting to ponder. IMO, anyway. 

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How are you reading the phrase "sheets of sound", what does that mean to you? Just asking because as a musically accurate phrase, it's essentially meaningless to me. I hear what he ws doing in 58/59 carry over all the way into 65 (and I am willing to give credence to the LSD Changed Coltrane Forever thing, although I don't see that as a negative or a positive, just...LSD does change people, often forever, that's kinda the point, hopefully/idealistically). It evolved as it went, but the technique was straight out of what had come before. There were other things added/subtracted, but it's pretty much a continuation from what began when he came back with Monk.

Now, if that phrase means something else altogether to you or Rooster, then that's a response I don't have. so maybe we're talking about different things?

And when it comes to tone, I think I know what he means, kind of. Elvin gave his that deepass pocket to lay in, and yeah, he worked that sucker every way there was to work it, he leaned in out forward back, pretty much any direction. And the more you lean, the more places you have to put your air.

But to the original question, if you want to play a mix-match game of "what if" with Coltrane, my god, there have been so many emulators/imitators, I'm sure you can find one (or more) that does that.

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We both know what the phrase means. You want a technical explanation, but I do not have the knowledge to provide one. I’m not a musician. 

And it definitely does not carry over into ‘65. 

Edited by Scott Dolan

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I'm not a musician, "sheets of sound" is helpful to me as a historical marker on Coltrane, it is what I hear in '57-'58 from him that I don't hear from '55-'56. even though I can't explain it musically. The time with Monk seems like the boundary line to me from what I can tell.  That live album with Monk that Blue Note put out is stunning.   Also, if "Live in Seattle" and especially "Om" (recorded on consecutive days, 9/30 and 10/1 1965) is what LSD can do to you, I'm glad I never went there in my own life.

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Ok, this is, for me, my textbook "sheets of sound period" solo, the phrase originally being used to describe a real-time reaction to what was then new. I use it as a go-to becuase it's not been over-heard by listeners, nor is it too long. It's easy to listen to, imo.

So what's happening here (besides that out of left-field opening!)? In basic terms, it's simple - he's "running changes" on in a very methodical way. The key centers of the changes move, and he moves his methodology with them. You can hear the scales, the patters, it's all very methodical (and very exciting/interesting). The "sheets of sound" might make it sound like it's an endless, uh, sheet, but it's not. It's mathematical as fuck, which is not in any way a bad thing, and you can, once you get past the overwhelming of the "sheet" effect, "do the math" and see where that harmonies pivot and the contents of the line follow suit. Really, it's good old-fashioned vertical playing at a very highly developed level. Playing the changes, exhaustively so. If you want to macro-elasticize the impression, you could say that each phrase of the solo is a Coleman Hawkins solo unto itself/ You could, but don't. :g

Where this Russell session falls in relation to Kind Of Blue, I can't tell you exactly, but it's "in the area". So now listen to that iconic "So What" solo (in your head, probably, a lot of people have it ingrained in there), and what is he doing? The same thing he's doing here, only with a helluva lot fewer harmonic pivot points. So, idea began, developed, and then, hey wait, it's still the same chord. Trane's already in his zone, so this is not a problem, but just as that guy did the remix and made "Giant Steps" all into one key, literally, solo and everything, you could do that in reverse here, in some kind of way, take the one chord lines and make them go into actual changes.

Now that's ok for one record, but you gonna stick with that all night long, uhh....no. And this is where it gets interesting (and no, I've never seen this documented as being Coltrane's actual thought process, nor would I presume to claim it as such. People processing problem/challenge/resolution don't necessarily know how they got through to the other side until after the make it, and then...why should they care, getting there was the object, not just - just - doing math homework. Otoh, there is no magic. Remember, there is hard work, math, science, and perseverance,. All these are qualtities that Coltrane had in an abundance, that much we can "prove")..

So what all happens? You bring in Elvin, that changes everything in a pretty basic vibrational time/space wise. But you also start hearing Trane finding ways to speain ways that fit into his innate pulse and still work out mathematically. Literally, how do you keep up playing with one surge and make it fit into the same temporal allocation but without the recurring subdivisions of that space created by moving chord changes? This is not a romantic notion, this is basic math, really. Notes have to fit into a certain temporal space. Like Chico Hamilton said, if you have one and then two, no matter where or when two comes, you have time. You have space. How will it be filled or not filled? Perhaps it could be noted that if you're aware of the space, yyou're already occupying it?!?!?

Trane did a lot of things to work this out, starting with the different colorations of notes by using alternate fingerings. You start hearing that more and more. You start hearing the range of the instrumented expanded, up up up. This allows the energy to fill the space by going someplace it couldn't go before. You hear a lot of this for a little while, and then you get what was lurking there all along - the use of internal pivots, internal harmonic pivots, to superimpose over the underlying static harmony. And when you break that down , you can discover that there's a LOT of math there(I've done just a very little bit of it myself. Others, however, have done it exhaustively. It is real, and it's not arbitrary or coincidental)), logic, symmetry, much of it derived from earlier change-based playing (the whole "3-on-1" thing that Miles called out comes into play here, as does the math of the "Giant Step changes")  And that's when the "sheets" really start coming back and charging ahead, lines just like running - at times gushing! -  water, but no longer needing chord changes to run. Harmonic touchstones, yes, always. But cyclic, symmetric, inevitable standard song form changes, no. This didn't all happen in neatly defined "periods", because he already knows about it all. But different sessions show different emphasis at any given point (that's why all the bootlegs have merit, it really does vary from gig to gig what the emphasis is)

And really, 65 up  until the end, yeah, that's still there. 65 in particular is virtuosity of math and instrument at about as high a level as it's going to happen it this realm of music, ever. Sheets abound, but they are now coming from a different place, using the empowerment of total familiarity. Yes, sheets, pouring forth. Didn't his "obsession" with harp music take root in the early 1960s?. There's some sheets of sound! And 66-67? The most successful (and I'd entertain the possibility of it being the only fully successful) music form that period is Interstellar Space, and good god, if that music is not "sheets of sound", then such a thing does not exist, period.

The biggest breakthrough that I hear in Coltrane after him cleaning up and coming back with Monk is that he stopped trying to bob and weave like the beboppers, He came direct, still with accents, of course, and still with swing, but no more trying to fit himself into the shadow-boxing bebop phrasing like he had done before (it's all over the quintet records with Miles, all over them). Out it comes, get out of the way if you're not ready. He became a "sheet-er" then, and he remained one until the end.

That is why to me, "sheets of sound" to refer to a specific point in Coltrane's playing does not make real/practical sense to me.

 

 

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OK. 

Let me try this analogy to see if we can come to an understanding. 

Imagine a harp. You take your fingers and pluck each string from one end to the other. Each string sounds different, but the progression from one end to the other is quite linear and clear, no matter how much time you spend on one string or another. Then work your way back up. 

That is in essence what a “sheet of sound” sounds like to me. 

Now, pluck only two strings several times, then jump around to other strings. Rinse and repeat. 

That is what Coltrane was doing after ‘59. 

Does this analogy make sense to you, as a musician? 

Edited by Scott Dolan

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It is just fine music - can't we let it go at that?

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15 minutes ago, Chuck Nessa said:

It is just fine music - can't we let it go at that?

Absolutely! 

Just trying to come to an understanding. 

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4 minutes ago, Scott Dolan said:

OK. 

Let me try this analogy to see if we can come to an understanding. 

Imagine a harp. You take your fingers and pluck each string from one end to the other. Each string sounds different, but the progression from one end to the other is quite linear and clear, no matter how much time you spend on one string or another. Then work your way back up. 

That is in essence what a “sheet of sound” sounds like to me. 

Now, pluck only two strings several times, then jump around to other strings. Rinse and repeat. 

That is what Coltrane was doing after ‘59. 

Does this analogy make sense to you, as a musician? 

The analogy makes sense, yes. I just don't hear it like that as far as Coltrane's playing. Even in the "sheets of sound" period, those "sheets" are seldom "just" scalar runs, they're arpeggios. sequences, patterns, etc. the true "sweeps" are usually used at the beginning of phrases, and just as seldom make up the entirety of the phrases. There's a lot of "breaking up" of the scales, he just connects them all so damn completely that it hides it, which was perhaps apart of the point. And yes, there is more of that in the earlier "clean" era. I think that's logical in retrospect, the guy was clean and ready to charge, and was leaving nothing to chance, total coverage, if you will. So yeah, I get that.

But I I still hear the sweeps in there as the years pass and the music evolves goes along, too. It never goes away, really, no matter what other tools have been added, the "sweep tool" remains. And by the time you get to Interstellar Space, it sounds to me like your "two string" analogy has been maxed out into a total sweep all its own, as if the harp had been rebuilt. Of course, that wouldn't work physically with a harp (although I don't know about extended techniques or such as they pertain to harp). But it can certainly be done with other instruments, including piano, which is a harp with keys, right? Cecil, for sure, and Colin Nancarrow, player piano, hands no longer needed!

Just saying, I get what the phrase means to you, and I get the differences in how you hear the different periods. I'm just saying that I'm hearing the same music you are, but I think I'm weighing the elements differently, based on my personal experiences (as are you with yours). Don't know why that would be the case, nor do I care. There are no wrong answers as to what you like and why you like it, and, especially, what you hear how it makes you feel, not just emotionally, but spatially. That shit is inviolably personal, not for nobody to touch except you..

There might be wrong answers, though, when the questions are asked in such a way that impressions are conflated with facts. I do get buggy when critical jargon gets turned into musical fact, like if I once wore all/mostly red and then evolved into a pattern that still had a lot of red in it, just not all in one place, and maybe it's no screaming at you but is whispering pretty loudly in the background. But definitely in there, and maybe all the other colors are in the distant red family , and then somebody asks gee, ever wonder what it would be like if you started wearing red again. I mean, the red is still there, it never left. And if I get tagged early on as "Mister Red", then...ok, sure, but, seriously/really? Don't fall for shit like that!

Of course, that's silly, because I hate red and avoid it in all forms as much as possible. But still, that's what I'm saying, one person sees the red no matter what else is there with it, another person basically sees everything but the red. And some people just don't give a damn! :g

Also, apropos of probably nothing, I still have a hunch that there's a "spiritual connection" between Coltrane's "sheets" (no matter the era/form), and Johnny Hodges supra-human glissandos and micro-pitches.

Johnny Hodges runs deep!

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