"Setting The Pace" - John Coltrane's Prestige Recording
Mark | East Coast | 06/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Settin' the Pace album is often the subject of controversy. Clearly this one has flown under the radar, but perhaps only when compared to Coltrane's other amazing works and his prolific catalog.
Now I own this record in at least 4 different formats. That's right, 4. I own the original vinyl, the first CD issue, the Fearless Leader Box Set and now this remastered re-release. These new versions are the only remasters available at this time. So until they issue a new box set of the remastered versions, you have to look to these original disks if you want to hear these albums remastered.
Yes it's true, the original recording sounds very good. Yes it's also true that the "Fearless Leader" box set includes all this material, along with many more Prestige albums. So why purchase the re-mastered Rudy Van Gelder edition? Well, if you are one of those (like me) who simply has to own every Coltrane album and for that matter every Rudy Van Gelder recording, it will be hard to say no. Similarly, if you are of the ilk that believes that anything before 1979 should be re-mastered, you may find this version to be your first satisfactory purchase of this album.
The recording quality is very good, especially considering the time period. Then again, that's typical Rudy Van Gelder. There are some subtle nuances during which the volume fluctuates greatly between the brass sections and the piano sections. But the sound is still crisp and vibrantly clear.
This group of musicians is essentially the Red Garland trio + Coltrane. This includes Paul Chambers on bass and Art Taylor on percussion.
The album definitely has a cleaner and bolder sound to the previous release version and the box set recording. Once again, for those simply looking to get the material the other disks may appeal to you more. But I think these re-mastered versions are bound to attract a great deal of attention, which these recordings undoubtedly deserve.
In this period, Coltrane was still experimenting with more traditional jazz concepts. The result is an amazing recording that may not be as easily recognizable as Coltrane to those who are more familiar with his more emphasized later works.
And to that point, as far as material this album is understated but still top-notch. "I See Your Face Before Me" is a lovely romantic ballad that has also been covered by Sinatra among others. This is the kind of romantic ballad that people think of when they think of jazz saxophone.
"Rise and Shine" is a fast and powerful bop tune that shows you the range of Coltrane's possibilities on the tenor. And "By The Numbers" ends the album on a smooth note, taking things down a notch to the tempo that started the album for an impressive bookend. "If There Is Someone Lovlier Than You" is a beautiful track that features one of my favorite tenor solos from Coltrane.
`Little Melonae' is a very interesting Jackie Mclean composition that has a wonderful set of solos by Garland and Coltrane. Garland's soft and steady play does nothing to hide his amazing play. Here Coltrane really shows some amazing improvisational creativity while still remaining within the structure.
Do yourself a favor and grab this album. You'll be glad you did. Whether the re-mastered version, the original release or the "Fearless Leader" box set you will enjoy this album immensely.