Search - John Coltrane :: Impressions

John Coltrane
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #1

One of John Coltrane's great LPs of the early '60s, Impressions might seem like a hodgepodge, with tracks from three different sessions in three different years. The two long tracks--"Impressions" and "India"--come from...  more »


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All Artists: John Coltrane
Title: Impressions
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Polygram Records
Release Date: 6/6/2000
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Modern Postbebop, Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 731454341622

One of John Coltrane's great LPs of the early '60s, Impressions might seem like a hodgepodge, with tracks from three different sessions in three different years. The two long tracks--"Impressions" and "India"--come from Coltrane's November 1961 stand at the Village Vanguard, and together they represent the poles of Coltrane's conception at the time. "Impressions," a personal variant of "So What" that Coltrane had long explored as a member of the Miles Davis quintet, is an uptempo tenor onslaught, a blistering, sustained exploration in which Coltrane and drummer Elvin Jones established new parameters for intensity and sheer physicality. "India," a variant on the earlier "Mr. Knight," has Coltrane's soprano and Eric Dolphy's bass clarinet keening over two pulsing basses, piano, and drums, pressing jazz toward hypnotic depths. Balancing those extraordinary live performances are more compact studio recordings. "Up 'Gainst the Wall," from 1962, is a tautly convoluted blues without piano. "After the Rain," a gorgeous original ballad, and "Dear Old Stockholm" come from a 1963 session when drummer Roy Haynes had temporarily replaced Elvin Jones. The material is also available on the definitive box sets, Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings and Classic Quartet--Complete Impulse! Studio Recordings, but for listeners not ready for those investments, this is a superb portrait of a multifaceted artist. --Stuart Broomer

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CD Reviews

Coltrane in transition.. again
spiral_mind | Pennsylvania | 09/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ok, I know.. it's redundant to use that phrase to describe someone who was more of a chameleon than Madonna and David Bowie combined. Impressions isn't remarkable simply for being a snapshot of two different phases in John Coltrane's career. What makes it special - to me at least - is how *much* of his range it covers in a mere five tracks. I'm not exactly an expert and there's a lot of the JC catalogue I don't know, but I haven't found another album that crosses so much ground within one package. Yet.

Specifically, it's got two extended live blows. John's perpetual search for something indefinable made his music wander more and more away from the usual toe-tapping anyone-can-understand-it variety of jazz, and his onstage explorations were evolving into something completely unpredecented in terms of intensity (as well as sheer length). Here we get two such songs at 15 minutes each, showing just how in-depth (and how inventively) he liked to explore a motif over the course of a performance.

The title song is less of an invention than an adaptation (hence the title) - the basic form is that of Miles Davis's classic "So What," but molded and transmogrified and delivered at blistering hyper speed. "India" isn't quite as breathless; it's an excursion into middle-eastern modes instead, a little more subtle and nuanced. In both cases it can be a lot to handle at first, but there's enough going on to well reward some extended listens. And for those who might not want a whole show's worth of this stuff, this disc is an excellent small taste without the risk of becoming too much of a good thing.

And then there's the other side of Trane, represented by the other tracks. "Up 'Gainst the Wall" is a basic blues done in a trio with no piano - still exploring outside the basic quartet format he'd done so much with - and "Dear Old Stockholm" puts another exploratory spin on something that may have become a little too familiar. And for anyone who may have wondered whether Coltrane was getting too technical or too far-out, or lacked soul amid all the flurrying 'sheets of sound'.. the exquisitely gorgeous "After the Rain" should be plenty of evidence that he had an abundance of feeling still to share.

This isn't the most essential Coltrane album - or maybe even in the top five - but if your interest starts going beyond Giant Steps and A Love Supreme, I seriously doubt Impressions will be a disappointment."
Great music, but be careful which version you are buying
G B | Connecticut | 01/18/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There have been so many reissues of Coltrane's music, in so many versions, that it's worth knowing which you are buying. Currently there are actually two versions of "Impressions" on the market. In addition, the music on "Impressions" is also available on other currently available discs. If you're a Coltrane completist, you can probably save money by skipping this disc and assembling it from other purchases. If you're the kind of person who will stop at 10 or 12 Coltrane discs, you probably want to pick this one.

First, there is the 2008 reissue of "Impressions" on the Verve/Impulse originals series - it's just a straight up reissue of the original 1963 LP. The bulk of the album comes from two tracks off Coltrane's legendary and controversial 1961 Village Vanguard engagement. This is great, boundary pushing music - whether the exotic soprano saxophone stylings of "India" (featuring Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet) or the intense trio playing of "Impressions". If you want to skip buying "Impressions" (the album), you can get these tunes either on the 1 disc set "The Village Vanguard Master Takes" or the 4 CD Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings box set.

There are also two studio recordings on the 2008 reissue. "After the Rain" is an absolute classic - a must for even the most casual Coltrane fan. It's a beautiful ballad in the "late Coltrane" style, with a gentle yearning melody and a floating rhythm. If skipping "Impressions", you can get it on the "Dear Old Stockholm" compilation.

"Up Against the Wall" is a very brief but intense blues, performed without piano. Coltrane was great at this sort of thing, and while it's not the best example of his playing in the genre, but it's very good and if you like this kind of thing I would definitely want to hear it. It's available on the 1997 reissue of Coltrane, but NOT on the 2008 Verve Originals reissue. (Confusing, I know.)

The 2000 reissue of "Impressions" includes all of the above, plus the bonus track "Dear Old Stockholm". This is a nice performance, but it's nowhere near as good as the version Coltrane recorded with Miles in 1956. I would call it inessential, but if you do want to hear it, you can either get it on this reissue or on the compilation "Dear Old Stockholm" (which also includes "After the Rain").

Overall the music here is essential and it's a very strong album, but you don't need to buy this album if you already own "Dear Old Stockholm", "Coltrane" (version with bonus tracks) and one of the two Vanguard releases mentioned above."
Unfairly overlooked
finulanu | Here, there, and everywhere | 11/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is one of Coltrane's several unfairly overlooked albums. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this album is that each song evokes a totally different emotion, from the harsh, near-atonal "India" to the more playful "Up 'Gainst the Wall" to the furious title track to the hymnal "After the Rain". I'll confess that "India" (which, like the title track, was recorded at the Village Vanguard) isn't much of a song outside of Eric Dolphy's bass clarinet, but other than that, this is a near-flawless set. I find "After the Rain" to be moving; Coltrane's literally nonstop (he solos for just about all of its fifteen-minute length), frenetic soloing on the title song, a song based on the Miles Davis classic "So What", is breathtaking; and "Up 'Gainst the Wall" reveals an unfairly overlooked side of Coltrane: the lighthearted one (also expressed on "Syeeda's Song Flute")."