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The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings
John Coltrane
The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #4

Coltrane had only recently moved to the Impulse label when producer Bob Thiele decided to set up recording equipment for performances at the Village Vanguard in November 1961. It was a crucial period in Coltrane's artistic...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: John Coltrane
Title: The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings
Members Wishing: 6
Total Copies: 0
Label: Grp Records
Original Release Date: 9/23/1997
Release Date: 9/23/1997
Album Type: Box set, Live
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Modern Postbebop, Bebop
Number of Discs: 4
SwapaCD Credits: 4
UPCs: 011105023221, 011105423229

Synopsis essential recording
Coltrane had only recently moved to the Impulse label when producer Bob Thiele decided to set up recording equipment for performances at the Village Vanguard in November 1961. It was a crucial period in Coltrane's artistic development, as his music assumed apocalyptic power and controversy swirled around his expanded band and marathon performances. The band ranges from a trio with bass and drums for the extended tenor workouts like "Impressions" and "Chasin' the Trane"; to an octet on some versions of "India," where Coltrane's soprano swirls through the throbbing drones and percussion. Among the sidemen are the multireed player Eric Dolphy and drummer Elvin Jones, Coltrane's most inspiring partners, while guests include Ahmed Abdul-Malik on tamboura and Garvin Bushell, a veteran of Jelly Roll Morton's bands, on contra-bassoon. There are more than four hours of music here, with multiple versions of core repertoire and almost every instant packed with passion and invention. These are among the greatest recordings of Coltrane's career. --Stuart Broomer

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CD Reviews

The greatest live music ever recorded?
G B | Connecticut | 06/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"John Coltrane was no stranger to controversy when he and his quintet arrived at New York's Village Vanguard in 1961; but the controversy that this extremely radical music aroused among jazz audiences, may have been a shock. Critics, including those who a year or two earlier had championed Giant Steps and My Favorite Things, now derided the music as anti-jazz or worse. Granted, this is some of Coltrane's most challenging pre-1965 music; but it is also music filled with incredible invention and joy, music that every open-minded jazz fan should check out. There's "Chasing the Trane" from November 2, where Coltrane pretty much deconstructs the saxophone with honks, whoops, and screams but never quite forgets the joyful, singsong melody; the unforgettable duet between Coltrane and drummer Elvin Jones on the November 3 "Impressions"; and "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise", which features the classic Coltrane quartet and is an interesting comparison to the version that Sonny Rollins recorded four years earlier at the same venue. McCoy Tyner plays wonderful piano on "Greensleeves" and "Softly..."; Elvin Jones is, as usual, superhuman. Eric Dolphy plays some of his finest music, with his vocal style on bass clarinet and alto sax -- from his anguish on both takes of "Naima" to the modal musings of "India". And yeah, several of the tracks are repeated, but each one is a universe to itself. There's really no excuse for not owning this incredible box set, a milestone in jazz and 20th century music."
Upon revisiting the Village Vanguard
Pharoah S. Wail | Inner Space | 04/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Over the past couple days I listened to this for the first time in years. I listened to the Crescent album a few months ago and that was the first and only Coltrane (in terms of one of his own albums) I'd listened to in years. No real reason why I hadn't listened to him hardly at all for so long, I just hadn't.

It turns out I had forgotten how great a set this is. I always loved it, and I remembered loving it, but it's really been knocking me out these past 2 days. A ton has been written about Coltrane himself, and much more will be written in the future. Too little is said about the rest of the band. I think you could not care for Coltrane himself all that much and still love this music. Recorded on 11/1/61, 11/2/61, 11/3/61 and 11/5/61, the bands here (mainly McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Reggie Workman, Elvin Jones and Eric Dolphy) are fantastic. When a Coltrane solo ends, there is no letdown. This is some of McCoy's finest playing ever... much better than on other peoples' Blue Note albums. Garrison, Workman and Jones get it going on in a major way here. Really that is what this set is about for me more than anything... rhythm. It's impossible for me to sit still during this stuff. A churning, pumping cyclone of sound, that's what this band is.

The Indias and Miles' Modes alone would be enough to counterbalance this album even if the rest of the stuff were only worthy of one star, which is not the case. And of course this makes me miss Eric Dolphy, as usual. I'm not sure I'll ever stop wondering what could have been. =(
Essential Coltrane recording
bregt | Belgium | 11/30/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Those of you who already own the 1-disc version of Live at the Village Vanguard (or plan to buy only that version), may think that those three extra discs aren't essential. Well, you're wrong! Impulse should have released the complete recordings from the start! (Actually they did release almost all of those tracks on several albums, mainly in the 1970's) Maybe you think that four versions of India or Spiritual are too much. Well, in my view it's impossible to pick only one version; each version has a different line-up, a different musical colour, a different mood. And the fact that this recording is complete, gives it an extra documentary value. But contrary to many "documentary" editions this digital remaster has delivered a beautiful clear sonority, really magnificent! It's like Coltrane and his band are standing in front of you. Coltrane and Dolphy are at their best, improvising like you've never heard before. This is in my view one of the essential Coltrane albums, and certainly the best coltrane live recording."