Please note that the Lindsay Planer AMG review refers to the four disc Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings of Coltrane, this particular CD is a straight reissue of the original three track LP released in the series.
Fans of Coltrane and Eric Dolphy are advised to search for the larger boxed set.
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William R. Nicholas | Mahwah, NJ USA | 11/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Coltrane may have made more stirring albums than Live at the Village Vangaurd, but he never made a more important one.
It is not his playing, or his new band's, which did far better work later. It is not the songs he picked. It is not that this was his best show, becuase it was not.
But it is arguably the first live jazz album that made use of wide open spaces, modes over chords. There are chords here--this is not modal jazz in the strict sense. But these are so extended, it gave Trane, and the band, a chance to open up and play long solos without having to worry about changing chords on the next bar. This freed not only their soloing, but every jazz solo player of the 60s.
Now, I hear those little jazz wheels turning in your pretty little jazz head: Yes. Miles did do this on Kind Of Blue. But the songs there were neat little studio minitures, nuacned to make a perfect sublime album that people could play on their Heathkit tube amplifiers, drinking martinis after Gunsmoke or Jack Benny. Vangaurd is wild improvosation--all the edges hang out.
In retrospect, this is not the best jazz show ever, but as far as invention and the starting point for jazz in the 60s, this towers over almost everything else."
Decent live Coltrane
Anthony Cooper | Louisville, KY United States | 07/22/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This fairly short (36 minute) CD has some pretty good performances by the Coltrane-Tyner-Workman-Jones quartet, with Eric Dolphy guesting on "Spiritual". "Spiritual" starts somewhat slowly, then gets moving about 4 minutes in. Coltrane hands off to Dolphy, who's playing bass clarinet. Coltrane comes back, and the playing is almost like an easy preview of "Love Supreme". "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise" starts with McCoy Tyner's piano. Coltrane plays a breezy soprano solo throughout the second half of the song. "Chasin' The Trane" seems pretty improvised. This is the wildest track. Towards the end, Coltrane starts to overblow and use some other free jazz techniques. Unfortunately, the rest of the band hasn't caught up with him yet, robbing some of the effect of the techniques.
This is a pretty good CD, but of the live Coltrane disks, I recommend getting "My Favorite Things: Coltrane At Newport" or "One Down, One Up Live At The Half Note" first. Those CD's were recorded later, tie everything together better, and sound 'live-er'. "
Amazing music, but don't buy this edition
G B | Connecticut | 01/18/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Coltrane's 1961 Village Vanguard engagement is legendary - both for the quality of the music and for the controversy it generated at the time. This reissue contains the Live at the Village Vanguard album, nothing more, nothing less, and to my mind offers a very poor value for most listeners.
There is another release - the Village Vanguard Master Takes - that offers the 3 tracks here, plus two others ("India" and "Impressions"). These are the 5 tunes from the 1961 Village Vanguard engagement released during Coltrane's lifetime. To be fair, you can still get those 2 missing tracks by buying the album "Impressions", but leaving them off here seems like a case of runaway original-LP-fetishism.
Another option most listeners should consider is the 4-CD box set which contains all the recorded tracks from the Vanguard engagement. This isn't something for everyone - the box is pricier, and most of the tunes (including 4 or 5 that are not available on the Master Takes disc) are given multiple interpretations that may go over the head of the Coltrane neophyte. Nevertheless, the more you listen to the music, the more the variations between these radically different versions (each night has a different approach) come to the fore. Unless you are the kind of person that will end up with no more than 5 or 6 Trane discs, I would consider saving up the cash and getting the box.
As far as the music, the most famous track is "Chasing the Trane" - a bare-bones blues with Coltrane on tenor, backed by only bass and drums. While later in his career would push the music out even further, by the standards of 1961 this was a very radical performance, with Coltrane's squawks, growls and screams as well as highly dissonant note choices. "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" is the most traditional track from the box, showcasing how well Coltrane's quartet could function even in a more conventionally swinging format. Listen to Elvin on brushes! Finally, "Spiritual" anticipates some of Coltrane's later music - "After the Rain", "Alabama", "Song of Praise", A Love Supreme - though in this case, he's literally playing a tune based on an African American spiritual rather than expressing that sentiment."