Wednesday, May 18, 2011

John Coltrane - Blue Train

The tenor sax giant had signed with another label when he embarked on this one-off date for Blue Note, an excursion that paid off with an enduring modern jazz masterpiece. Boasting volley after volley of smart soloing and intuitively swinging rhythm work, Blue Train is a joy, from the coolly precise ensemble entry on the opening title piece through the set's balance of elegant hard bop conversations and smooth downshifts into ballads. John Coltrane wrote four originals for the date, all of them now regarded as standards, and assembled a rhythm section including pianist Kenny Drew, Miles Davis's rhythm section of bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones, and trumpeter Lee Morgan and trombonist Curtis Fuller, both recent Blue Note recruits. Coltrane's signature sound, now fully developed but still hewing more to familiar blues and chromatic harmonies than his later modalities, is confident and expansive, and his partners respond vividly throughout. --Sam Sutherland


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