Kulu Sé Mama (Juno Sé Mama) - John Coltrane, Lewis, Julian 
Dusk Dawn [*]
Dusk Dawn [Alternate Take][#]
In 1965 John Coltrane was experimenting in a number of directions, regularly augmenting his long-standing quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones. He began a West Coast tour in the fall with tenor sax... more »ophonist Pharoah Sanders as a regular member of the band, and in Seattle he added Donald Garrett, playing both bass clarinet and bass, and drummer Frank Butler to the group before heading to Los Angeles to perform and record. The title track was composed by Juno Lewis, a singer and percussionist who brought a strongly African element into the expanding band. The chanted vocal and layered rhythms create one of Coltrane's most evocative performances, at once tranquil and potent, a gorgeous tapestry of percussion and reed sonorities that suggests a ritual. "Selflessness," recorded with the same group minus Lewis, is one of Coltrane's most luminous themes, a brief and exalted melody that's repeated and gradually expanded into a kind of serene chaos. The developing relationship between Coltrane and Sanders is particularly arresting, the two saxophonists both mirroring and expanding one another's ideas in stunning joint improvisations. These tracks are balanced by some classic quartet pieces recorded a few months earlier. --Stuart Broomer« less
In 1965 John Coltrane was experimenting in a number of directions, regularly augmenting his long-standing quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones. He began a West Coast tour in the fall with tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders as a regular member of the band, and in Seattle he added Donald Garrett, playing both bass clarinet and bass, and drummer Frank Butler to the group before heading to Los Angeles to perform and record. The title track was composed by Juno Lewis, a singer and percussionist who brought a strongly African element into the expanding band. The chanted vocal and layered rhythms create one of Coltrane's most evocative performances, at once tranquil and potent, a gorgeous tapestry of percussion and reed sonorities that suggests a ritual. "Selflessness," recorded with the same group minus Lewis, is one of Coltrane's most luminous themes, a brief and exalted melody that's repeated and gradually expanded into a kind of serene chaos. The developing relationship between Coltrane and Sanders is particularly arresting, the two saxophonists both mirroring and expanding one another's ideas in stunning joint improvisations. These tracks are balanced by some classic quartet pieces recorded a few months earlier. --Stuart Broomer
"There are Coltrane enthusiasts and then there are Coltrane enthusiasts. Since Trane was an artist whose style changed dramatically at least 4 or 5 times in his career, there are jazz fans who like only one or two or three of Trane's periods and can't stand his others. The critical consensus is that his work from 1965 till his death in 1967 is the most controversial. It is during this period that Trane, who came up through traditional jazz forms, moved deeper and deeper into free jazz. The beauty of the Kulu Se Mama disc is that it is informed by Trane's study of free form styles, but it is sufficiently structured so as to avoid derailing entirely into atonal, unmetered chaos. The title track is sublime with Juno Lewis's singing and percussion giving the tune shape while the horns piano and drums around him explore and radically push the envelope of the simple folk melody. This is a track where African flavored folk, hard bop, modal and free form jazz not only converge but converge successfully--it is a work of true and "new thing" beauty. "Vigil" is a duet between Trane and the classic Quartet's drummer Elvin Jones. The track is intense and intentionally not serene (the liner notes tell us that Trane meant the track as an encouragement to be vigilant against forces that are spiritually damaging and one can hear just such a struggle in Coltrane's playing). "Welcome" is a beautifully serene melody. This is tranquil music that doesn't belong in an elevator as the classic Quartet lays down one of its most conventionally beautiful tracks. "Selflessness" wasn't included with the original album--whether you will enjoy this track depends on whether you enjoy free form jazz. Typical of this period in Coltrane's career, the theme is short and discarded rather quickly and the band moves into an open form exploration of the line-up's potential. "Dusk Dawn" is a classic Quartet track with another quickly discarded theme and an open (but not exactly free) collective improvisation. I believe this is an essential Coltrane album. For the value of the title track alone, no modern jazz collection is complete without this disc. I value it above Ascension and Meditations."
The super masterwork. Incomparable. The definitive word.
T. Klaase | 06/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kulu Se Mama is one of the greatest works in the history of jazz. That's an understatement. Kulu goes beyond the limits of genre. It exists in the stratosphere of self determined art. It must be heard as an entire work, from start to finish. Simultaneously psychedelic, spiritual, soulful, preaching, pleading, angry, accepting, unsettling and healing. This is the voice of the mountaintop, the capstone of the great pyramid, the well of Chac the rain god, the lightening bolt, the philosopher's stone, Kaddish and serenade. This is it."
Stellar and Stunning - One of Coltrane's Best!!
T. Klaase | Orange Park, Florida United States | 09/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a transitional time period for Coltrane and friends. I've never heard Coltrane do anything quite like the title track before and it's amazing! One wonders what the magic must've been like - to witness that in the studio - Wow! Impressive. Track 2 is an almost 10 minute opus with just Coltrane and Elvin Jones - the first grains of "Interstellar Space" are found right here, a year or two before... This is one of my all time favorite Coltrane albums and I'm stunned that it is not more popular than it is..."
Trane Finds His Roots
Josephll | CET | 02/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Coltrane was undoubtly one of the greatest and most important Jazz musicians of all time, blessed with a marvelous tecnique and creativity like few he did it all in a relatively short career. First as a member of Miles Davis classic band, later with Monk and then from around 1960 to his premature death in 1967 as a brilliant solo musician that is mostly remembered for his spirituality and Avant-Gard records. Trane's diversity as a musicians is simular to Miles in the sense that he was always eager to try new things and he often changed his style of plying. Thus, old Trane records sound nothing like the newer one's where he was getting into the Avant-Gard movememt and exprimenting alot with his music and many of those albums deal with Religious Spirituality and finding his own roots. Trane was fascionated with Islam but also African music. Which this album is influenced by. We had already seen signs of what was coming on his legendary and very much loved spiritual journey "A Love Supreme" from 1964, and Trane would continues making simular albums til he died, "Transition", "Ascension", "Meditation" and this one, which isn't considered among his best one's for reasons I will get into later.
During this very productive, creative and spiritual time of John Coltrane's life he was constantly in the recording studio with his band and alot of albums were made just aswell as alot of posthumously released material. Other then Saxophonists John Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders we'll find members like Donald Garett & Jimmy Garrison on Bass Elvin Jones & Frank Butler Drums/Percussion, Juno Lewis Percussion/Vocals and last but not last McCoy Tyner on Piano who also plays a key role on this album. This album which is partly influenced by African music is one hard Avante-Gard album to swallow if you're not into the genre, thus it's nothing I would recommend for beginners. It all starts with the title track which is an explosion of diffrent sounds, African Drums, sax sounds from Sanders and Coltrane and singing in an indegenous African language from Lewis I think. This song is both creative and very unique, but could by considered a pain for some people also. It clocks at 19 minutes and you'll find many diffrent parts of it, some slower with more singing and some that sounds more like an Avante-Gard inferno where nothing stops the saxophonists from playing their hearts out. Next up is a drum song called "Vigil" where Elvin Jones plays a key role, Fantastic drummer by the way!. After a while Trane jumps in and the song goes Avante-Gard from there. Third song is among the finest Jazz-Ballads ever recorded, it's called "Welcome" and it differs from everything else on this album. It's slow, meliodic and just adorable to listen to. Trane and pianist Tyner get's most of the credit here. Most people would like this song. Next up is in my oppinion Trane finest moment of his whole career. "Selflessness", it got one of the most wonderful melodies I ever heard and I believe this was his way of comminicating with god since music was religion to him. This key melody starts very slow, but will continue throughout the whole song, eventually it will all go crazy and Trane/Sanders will play their hearts out in a tumult of Saxophones that emualate the sound of Elephants. The latter part may be hard for some people to take but it's undeniable to give them credit for playing so fine together. Pianist Tyner also plays a keyrole here and got his own solo midway. Then we'll get 2 takes of "Dusk Dawn", another meliodic piece where Bassist Donald Garret got an quite unusual solo. Another great song. When the original album was released the only new song was the title track, Vigil and Welcome had already appeared on "Transition" and the last 2 songs were not present. Both of them got released on posthumous albums but eventually when the remastered version came out they were added and made this album absolutely brilliant. The reason why this isn't considered on of his best, is exactly cause of that, but if we judge the album by these 6 songs it's fantastic and deserves to be up there among his legendary records.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend this album to newbies cause it's not an easy album to swallow at first listen, some of the songs are very Avante-Gard or noisy as some doubters would say, however this is one of those albums were we truly find Trane's almost religious commitment to Jazz where we know that he plays with his heart and soul. Some parts may be very hard for some people but it's undeniably meliodic and coherant, especially "Welcome" that is a ballad, "Selflessness" and "Dusk Dawn". If you're new to him check some of his older albums first like "Blue Train", "Giant Steps" and "My Favorite Things", if you have listened to "A Love Supreme" and like that, then check this one too cause it's a wonderful album that really captures the listener and make his emotionally commited to the music aswell."
Beautiful & Intense
Talking Wall | Queen Creek, AZ | 04/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Update #3: six months later, still my favorite Trane and one of my favorite jazz releases.
Update #2: After a month, I can honestly write that this is my very favorite Coltrane CD and I have almost every CD from his first Prestige session as a leader up through Meditations (still need to get Expression). Yes, I love A Love Supreme, Sun Ship, Live at Birdland, Village Vanguard, Ascension, Giant Steps, Favorite Things and so on. But there is something about this CD that really has its hooks in me and I can't get away from it. The track Selflessness is the most wonderful piece of music I have ever heard. It's free form and frantic but joyous at the same time. It's almost like a spiritual celebration. I will NEVER get tired of Selflessness. It's easily my favorite Coltrane track.
those who have trouble accessing or getting close to Coltrane's free music from June 65 forward should pick this up along with Sun Ship. The playing is free, intense, but it's also grounded in central time signatures and tonal centers (it shifts constantly but it is there).
I wish I could give this 10,000 stars. it is my favorite recording of all time and I have a HUGE library of music.
Update: I've had this CD for about 2 weeks now and just can't stop playing it. It is such wonderful music and it's a very different Coltrane release. I own maybe 90 Miles Davis CDs. 30 Coltrane CDs and dozens of Blue Note releases by Shorter, McClean, Dolphy, Morgan, Hancock and so on. This is by far the coolest recording I own. I can't stop playing the title track and Selflessness. Simply amazing, wonderful, beautiful, intense.
Kulu Se' Mama is probably the most "organic" sounding release from Trane's catalog. Juno Lewis is a wonderful addition and appears on the title piece and Selflessness. Lewis sings and plays a variety of drums and the conch shell. The first time I listened I heard a sound that wasn't quite like a flute and not quite like someone singing soprano, then I looked at the musician credits on the CD cover and discovered it was a conch shell. Yeah, organic is definitely the right word.
There's a lot of music here, the two tracks by an expanded group include Juno Lewis, Frank Butler, Donald Garrett and Pharaoh Sanders really stand out. There's a Trane/Jones drum and sax duet (Vigil) that points toward the Interstellar Space sessions with Rashied Ali. There's also a couple of pieces by the Quartet itself.
My favorite tracks are Kulu Se' Mama, Selflessness (there's so much joy in this piece of music, it's just wonderful) and Welcome. There's a lot of free playing of course but it isn't as "unapproachable" as some might find in works like "Meditations" or "Ascension" (I happen to love 'em). You certainly can't listen to the expanded ensemble using the ears you use to listen to "My Favorite Things" or "A Love Supreme", but if you relax and just let the music happen, I believe even those who really don't like free jazz will learn to appreciate the beauty within this music.
Selflessness has a wonderfully intense moment where, after the horns have soloed and Tyner is wrapping up his solo lines, right at the 9 minute mark (that had to have been timed deliberately) the horns come back in with fierce intensity. It's pure elation... rapture! This is one of the great moments in Coltrane's recorded legacy in my opinion.
Kulu Se' Mama is great stuff. If you like Trane's mid sixties material and are a bit wary of the later stuff then this is an excellent release for getting your feet (ears?) wet."