Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Major Works of John Coltrane
Genres: Jazz, Pop
The majority of this two-CD collection is occupied by two versions of "Ascension," John Coltrane's rambunctious riposte to Ornette Coleman's "Free Jazz." Other critical works from Coltrane's combustive later groups compris... more »
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The majority of this two-CD collection is occupied by two versions of "Ascension," John Coltrane's rambunctious riposte to Ornette Coleman's "Free Jazz." Other critical works from Coltrane's combustive later groups comprise the remainder of the set, including the spirited chaos of "Om," the poignantly exporatory "Selflessness," and the African-tinged "Kulu Se Mama." Each piece here points to a different, often parallel, direction in music for Coltrane, who by the mid-1960s was widely recognized as one of the greatest younger composers and performers in jazz. "Ascension" threw together sparse, repetitive melody statement and then a wholesale departure into free improvisation. "Om" drew chanting, hoarse bellowing on multiple saxophones, and breathless time signatures into a wicked storm. And the other tracks more delicately explored the transition from the then-famous John Coltrane Quartet-with pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, and bassist Jimmy Garrison-to the quickly infamous, but no less artful and innovative, bands which Coltrane enlisted to blaze free jazz trails aplenty before his death in 1967. Andrew Bartlett
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Great music, naff concept
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Muscially this is incredible (just refer to the individual albums for reviews by me and others).However, I feel compelled to say some words about the concept of amalgamating these recordings.Firstly, in doing so, you miss out on the orginal liner notes and artwork. For example, the poem in Kula Se Mama. Impulse! should be severely punished for this. Once again they have treated Coltranes work with a total lack of respect. (What is even worse is that the box set of the Classic Coltrane Quartet material lacks the poem for A Love Supreme).Secondly, I would only advice you to buy this if you are (1) not interested in the above and (2) already own the Classic Quartet box set, which contains the remaining tracks from the Kula Se Mama album. Otherwise, you are going to want the original albums.Thirdly, but how else does one get hold of Om? This is a con by Impulse! if you ask me.Fourthly, regarding 'Om' and the review by DMG, Swindon UK. I think this reviewer has lost the plot completely. Recall that Coltrane once said that he believed in ALL RELIGIONS. I am extremely unreligious and still dig it!Finally, it should a crime to call his 'major works'. This doesn't make sense at all. Does a compliation really need both Ascensions? What about the missing A Love Supreme or Meditations or Interstellar Space. And then what about all of the non-Impulse! recordings generally considered to be major works (Giant Steps, My favourite things etc).Please don't buy out of protest and email Impulse! to encourage them to release Om in a sensible way.Miss UK 1802"
Historic Recordings, but Hard to Warm Up To
Christopher Forbes | Brooklyn,, NY | 08/13/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ascension is one of those works in the jazz canon that is easier to admire than to truly like. It was important in launching the careers of Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, and several other musicians, and spawned an important genre of avant-garde music. It had a documented effect on many acid rock bands of the 60s, notably the Dead and Pink Floyd (with Syd Barrett). And yet, though I have been a fan of avant-garde jazz since I was a teenager,though I admire the musicianship on the Ascension cuts, and find some of the solos transcendent (Sanders, Shepp, Trane of course) this is not a work that I have ever come back to with any regularity. Trane is trying something different here. This is the birth of the "energy" jazz movement of the 60s...music without conventional pulse, form or structure...music completely of the moment. While this is not cacophonous (contrary to opinions expressed below a careful listener will discover many points of contact between the horns in the collective improvs) it is pretty free, just a riff at the beginning and a soloist/collective improv structure. The work is a piece very much of it's time, the "do your own thing" 60s. In many ways you have to look at it as less of a musical event and more of a spirit raising ceremony (spirit raising in the Yoruba sense.) The whoops and wails of the music have much more to do with a shamanic ritual than with the mightclub based music of the hard bop era. Having two versions of the Ascension session is interesting. In many ways, the alternate version is superior...I certainly like Trane's solo there better. But both recordings are things that I will probably only put on ocasionally, and rarely for sheer enjoyment. The other works on the CD are in the same vein as Ascension, but easier to take. Om is a great piece...done in the "suite" style of most of Coltrane's late pieces such as a Love Supreme and Meditations. The presence of Donald Garrett adds some mystery to the group sound. I could do without the introduction and ending, they sound a little silly and dated, but the blowing on the session is really good, especially from Pharoah, who is at his wild best. (If you think it is easy to create the shrieking split tones that he manages, try it yourself. It's an art!) My favorite cuts on the album come from Coltrane's "Kula Se Mama" album. The presence of added percussion on Kula gives the work an overtly African feel, heightening it's shamanistic quality. Selflessness is also a great piece...recalling the Coltrane of the modal period, but with a wider and rougher sax tone. Trane has a beautiful full throated sax scream that can haunt your dreams. So yes, if you are already into Coltrane, get this album. You should know Ascension and one listening won't make it. The other works on the album are all very good and things that you will probably come back to. But if you are new to Trane, DON'T START HERE. I can't stress that enough! Start with his more conventional work, Giant Steps or My Favorite Things are good start off points. If you like those, then try the early Impulse albums, Live at the Village Vangard, Cresent, A Love Supreme, the Africa/Brass Sessions. And by all means buy his Ballads. This is a beautiful and very traditional album. Only when you've explored these sessions thoughroughly should you try to tackle this double set. Otherwise, you run the risk of dismissing this important and moving artist, as many of the reviewers on this page have. And that would be a tragedy!"
This isn't your Momma or Daddy's Jazz.....
Brandon S. | Oklahoma | 03/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I was just 15 I bought this set.....I was just getting into jazz, i'd already heard the 'requistes': "Giant Steps" and "Kind of Blue". However, for some strange reason, I went and bought this, this that the title "Major Works of John Coltrane" meant that these would be jazz symphonies of some sort. Boy was I unprepared for this music! "Ascension part 1" opens the double disc set. It's not easy to describe this music. The skeptic would say that Coltrane just wrote a few riffs, got a bunch of people in one recording studio, and played for 40 minutes without practice or anything, just making noise. That wouldn't be the wrong way to view it......but it's deeper than this. Although as a whole this music even after several years is still hard to handle, there are moments in the music of such beauty and(even) majesty, even more moments of chaos, there's everything known to mankind, and more that we can't understand. All of this is one 38 minute track. It is actually pretty straight-forward for free jazz: the solos and all are in a certain order. There are saxophones, trumpets, basses, drums....some of the people here aren't really known for free form jazz, like Freddie Hubbard. The double bass solo is interesting, there's a blend of bowed and straight bass. The piano solo is very cool, it doesn't sound improvised very much, but it's kinda surprising after the 30 minutes of pounded notes and filler noise from the piano. And the brass sound is HUGE, i've never heard anything so dense, so heavy. It's great. "Om" is the only other track on disc one. It really is bizzare, the most unsettling track of all. There are various percussion sounds, a recited poem inspired by some deep Eastern religion....and a lot of saxophone. I read somewhere that Coltrane took ... for the first time before the performance here, which could maybe describe his disturbing 8-10 minute solo here. He squeals, squeaks, blows, make some very strange noises, but it's very effective. Pharoah Sanders is pretty crazy himself here, but not as much. There's some flute playing throughout that's pretty messed up as well. Then some more poetry and the disaster fades away......now for disc two. It starts with "Ascension take 2".....it's very much like the first take, same musicians, probably recorded right after take one. There are some differences, such as solo order, and there are some sounds that I couldn't hear in the first one, but otherwise very much the same. Coltrane had both takes issued back when they originally came out! "Kulu Se Mama" is the most listenable music so far, it starts out with some singing in some tongue that i'm unfamiliar with, lots of percussion throughout, lots of drums. This music is very trance-like: it will put you to sleep, not because it's boring but because of the atonal quality to it, it doesn't move around and shift very much. And it's long as well, nearly 20 minutes long. "Selflessness" is perhaps the most commmercial track, which isn't say much actually! It's beautiful though, the melodies and the progression and everything. Now, in summary.......I can't even begin to imagine how people reacted to this music when it came out in 1965. This sound is radical, different, daring, all kinds of things. It's a far cry from Coltrane's earlier work....more like ... work. I'm surprised this music hasn't been as contoversial as ... fusion work in the late 60's through mid 70's, it's so much more different than anything else i've heard....I know it's 'free jazz' but still. I don't suggest that mere mortals buy this music, only those with an extremely open mind, those who are probably ..., people who aren't sensitive to sound, who can stomach a lot of sound, who aren't wusses! It's not music for lovers, or music for lounge lizards.....keep this music in your stereo, don't play it in public. People will scream, run away, maybe stay long enough to listen and then criticize. I've had people tell me it sounds like a school band rehearsing, that it's noise, all sorts of things. Very few people will understand it...if your'e one of those .... But it's beautiful, it's dangerous, it's pretty, it's ugly, it's everything. Thank you."