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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GENIUS -- UNDIMMED AFTER 40 YEARS
A musician's viruosity on his/her instrument of choice may be measured in many ways -- chiefly, I suppose, in the ability to make that instrument pour forth the notes that are in the musician's mind, slow or fast, loudly or softly, as the music being performed requires. Many musicians have been blessed with the ability to take this up a notch -- they miraculously...
Published on October 8, 2001 by Larry L. Looney

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Really nice album, but bad vinyl quality.
I returned the first album because it was warped. Now the second is noisy right out of the package. Thankfully this purchase came with the digital download. Great album.
Published 12 months ago by Marty L


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GENIUS -- UNDIMMED AFTER 40 YEARS, October 8, 2001
By 
Larry L. Looney (Austin, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
A musician's viruosity on his/her instrument of choice may be measured in many ways -- chiefly, I suppose, in the ability to make that instrument pour forth the notes that are in the musician's mind, slow or fast, loudly or softly, as the music being performed requires. Many musicians have been blessed with the ability to take this up a notch -- they miraculously transmit what they are feeling in their soul as they perform into the notes and phrases that the audience hears. John Coltrane was nothing short of a genius by the time he recorded these pieces -- joined by some of the finest musicians who ever played with him. Coltrane had learned the artistry of silence and restraint, coupling it with his sheer instrumental ability, bringing his music to a level rarely equalled before or since. This recording was begun in December of 1961 and finished in November 0f 1962 -- 40 years have passed, and it is still one of the premier jazz recordings ever made.
The tunes on this recording are standards -- they were already classic examples of songwriting when Coltrane recorded them. His own compositions were without question groundbreaking, moving expressions of a man with deep feelings of spirituality and an unquenchable urge for exploration -- but when John Coltrane took these standards into his heart and played them out through his saxophone, they became his.
This grouping was to become known as his quintisential quartet: McCoy Tyner (piano), Jimmy Garrison (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums) [Reggie Workman is heard on bass on track 7 only]. These four men had a playing empathy that most others only dream of. Every recording they made together shows stunning, unbelievable interplay -- and such respect for each other. After 40 years of listening to music of all types and genres, I can't think of any group more suited to playing together.
I've been listening to this recording a lot lately, having been reminded of its lasting greatness by Karrin Allyson's vocal tribute recording of the same tracks (a fine recording also -- check it out). I was discussing the two albums one day at Waterloo Records with a friend who has worked there for many years -- he remarked that 'this is the album I sell to people who tell me they don't like jazz'. Far from being any sort of put-down of Coltrane -- for I know how much my friend admires his work -- it speaks to the universality of his appeal, his ability to touch literally ANYONE with an ear with the genius he possessed.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The John Coltrane Quartet strikes again. 4 1/2 stars, May 17, 2000
This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
Back in 1962 the John Coltrane Quartet already a formidable group did something unheard of in the field of jazz at the time. They released and entire album of ballads. At the time many critics though that the group was crazy to release an entire album of ballads, the said it would never work. Well, here we are almost 40 years later and concept albums are now quite the norm. Countless of other all ballad albums have been released but this one to me remains one of the best. I wouldn't go as far as to say that this is the best album by the Coltrane Quartet. (a love supreme or johnny Harman and john coltrane) It's a quiet personal album. The kind that you just listen through not to any particular track but all of it at once. This album really is the type of album you can listen to to relax (and not fall asleep)after a long day at work. There are no jams on this one so there's no one song to center the disk around. But, how they play these ballads. it puts most other ballad albums to shame. listen to Coltrane on the first track Say it (over and over again). It's as if he's singing with the horn. Another stand out track is the quietly sedated all of nothing at all. I am personally in love with the sullen it's easy to remember. Overall this is an excellent album of ballads, quiet introspective and beautiful. I'm sure they'll be playing this one 40 years from now.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty, gentle mood music, August 22, 2001
By 
G B (Connecticut) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
John Coltrane was one of the greatest ballad players in jazz so it's not surprising that he would do an album of all ballads. But oddly enough, I don't think I'd consider any of these songs to be among his classic ballad performances -- they aren't in the same class as Ogunde, After the Rain, I Want to Talk About You, Naima or Blue in Green. The Quartet approaches these eight standards very respectfully, with most taken at a slow tempo. Maybe the approach is too conservative, because the band sounds too restrained on some of the cuts and the short time span (most tunes are between 3 and 5 minutes) limits the scope of the improvisations. Trane really holds back, keeping the emotional range of the music a little too narrow for my liking. A plus is that Coltrane and Jones's relative restraint give more space to McCoy Tyner's piano. I don't know if I'd call this an ideal introduction to Coltrane's music; some people may love Ballads but hate his more exploratory albums post-1960, while others may like the more intense stuff and find this one too tame. (A good combination of mood and more intense playing is 1964's Crescent.) But in the end, you can't really argue with Coltrane's beautiful tone playing eight pretty melodies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quiet & introspective genius, November 16, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
Coltrane's "Ballads" is even more subtle and soothing than "Stardust" or "My Favorite Things." Even though every track clocks in at under 5 minutes, the 8 songs performed here are done with beauty, simplicity & perfection. Most notable is the mischevious, Brubeck-esque "All Or Nothing At All." For a ballad collection, the album actually moves by fast, but the playing on it is so focused and gentle all at once that you hardly notice. A must have for jazz / Coltrane fans.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW, August 7, 2000
This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
You know that TV show "The List" on VH1? Well, this album should have made at least ten of the lists, including Album Everyone Should Own. I can't stress just how wonderful this piece is. The piano is right on, the drums are groovy, the bass is off the hook, and Coltrane is...well the best. John Coltrane completey blew me away with this record, the first that I have ever owned of his. Within days, I had gone to the store and bought several other 'Trane albums. I hope that people aren't going to just see this and dismiss it. Ballads is truly a one-of-a-kind work of art. This album is good for rainy nights, and those cold, cloudy lazy fall Saturday afternoons. In a word this ablum could be described as: INTOXICATING. Please, if you love jazz, you must hear this record. A definite must have for all jazz fans. If you haven't heard this, you should, and if you own a copy of it on CD or cassette, do yourself a favor, and get the real thing!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sublime perfection!, December 6, 2004
This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
In the special case of these giants jazz musicians you guess they reproduce reflects almost an autobiographical experience . if you realize the song titles and the way they play the piece , you will feel an open heart crying , dreaming and suffering . Tht's the blues , its nervous and greatness .
When you listen Say it (over and over again) you will be immediately engaged with this charming moods and eloquent expressiveness .Fantastic rapport and to me the best track of this excellent album.
You don 't know what love is the most passionate works of Coltrane and draws the right path of a missed love .
Too young to be steady is funny piece where Coltrane exhibits his notable domain of the musical form.
All or nothing at all is an experimental piece
I wish I know opens with a brief and smooth piano introduction where the soloist once more steals the show with that special magnetism and powerful feeling . Suggestive and tender piece . The second best track without any doubt.
It' s easy to remember opens too with a piano melody who allows as musical carpet to serve as curtain to Coltrane around a touching piece , nostalgic and elusive .
Nancy (with the laughing face) must have been one of the greatest loves of John . It 's just a love poem all the way . The rapture feeling is more than obvious .
This CD is wonderful and extraordinary . It will give you the minim but essential facets of this genius.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you planning to by ONE jazzBALLAD album..., September 7, 2001
By 
This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
... get THIS one (4 and a half star). Sure, you find better smooth blues and ballads here and there in other of Coltranes albums ("Crecsent", "Coltrane live at Birdland", "Giant Steps", Impressions, "The John Coltrane Quartet Plays", "Blue Train" etc) but to have one album containing nothing else than jazzballads, this is one of the best ever made and if you want one... why dont get it from one of the best saxplayers? I did not give it 5 stars only because Coltrane could do better smooth blues ballads by himself (on records mentioned above) and on this disc he use others writers standards instead of doing it all by himself.
Anyway... this one is overlooked by SOME professional jazzrewievers as "commercial", simple -comparing to his later freejazz/avant garde works and admired by the sort of rewievers who likes traditional smooth jazzballads. For me, a good record is a good record if you have an open mind whatsoever style is used by such a great saxplayer as Coltrane was.
A question to all Coltrane and music fans in general... could ANYTHING by Coltrane really be commercial playing his heart and intellect, body and soul out? A real beuty is this "Ballads" album and this one is for EVERYONE... from so called "real jazz avant garde aficionados" to "the ordinary man in the street" -IF you like good music. Bandmembers he had on his Impulse period was fantastic, all of them. McCoy Tyners pianowork is something really special here and the other players work on this album is not so bad either...
For you people familiar with "A Love Supreme", "Meditations, "Kulu se Mama", "Expressions", "Stellar Regions" etc. and like them (I love them)... this one "Ballads" could be a good compliment to your collection IF you have an open mind... :-) (*this was a good punch I think* :-) (you shuold know what I mean :-). Of course this is totally different.
My personal favourite on this "Ballads" album is "All or Nothing At All" but everything on it is beutiful. Maybe "All or Nothing..." stand out a bit more.
By the way... if you like it a bit "rougher", some more bluesstyle than just plain ballads and not so avantgarde as Coltranes later work and still looking for some "in between" go for "Crescent" instead, but I recommend you get "Crescent" AND this one "Ballads" beacause you get Coltranes smoother spectra in two full records in this more relaxing style.
What a heck, get ALL Impulse records made with Trane so you find out about Coltranes fantastic registers by youselves. All from sophisticated jazzballads to bop, moody blues, spiritual, hard bop, post bop, avant garde styles. He was not "only" a musician he was an multicultural artist showing the way to what mankind and life is all about beacause he opens your mind and heart in all his records by doing so himself.
This "Ballads" album is a perfect record for a newcomber to Coltranes music but not only to newcombers. It should suite ALL people who really like good music. This one is also a perfect record to listen to after a busy week even if (to citate Captain Beefheart): "Your ears stand up when you hear that sound".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different side of Coltrane, May 20, 2004
This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
John Coltrane demonstrates another side of his musical range on this beautiful album of ballads. Coltrane's playing is soulful, sweet and filled with emotion. Mccoy Tyner is equally devastating on piano on just about every cut included here. Coltrane's talent and musical imagination is unquestionably on display here in a cd that is highly accessable in comparison to some of his more challenging work. The man was a giant and this CD belongs on the shelf of every jazz lover.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, December 22, 2000
By 
Stephen (Virginia Beach, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
Let me start by saying without hesitation that Mediations is my favorite Trane album. Then why does this one rank in the top few for me. Its not innovative, intense or any of the other things that have marked tranes career. What it IS, is beautiful. Few albums are such a joy to listen to. If you like this one, I highly recommend Welcome to Love by Pharoah Sanders - yes Pharoah Sanders.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different from his other major works, and that's its beauty., October 9, 2009
By 
This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
I reckon a lot of the lower-scored reviews have the wrong mindset with this album--and in process, missed the point of Ballads entirely. Jazz-heads are prone to geek out over augmented triads in Coltrane's Giant Steps, or his experimental forays into free jazz. Hence there's a certain snobbish expectation of esotericism especially with Coltrane's works, that if it's not "different" enough that it's not great. And it's a real shame.

That John Coltrane didn't go the same path as his other seminal works shows his genius. That Coltrane can take standard tracks--what some may call "conservative"--and make them into his own is truly exemplary. His soft tone, rhythmic reservation and voice-like inflections reflect a true mastery over his instrument(s). In spite of his borderline-spartan arrangement--at least, relative to the relentless kinetic energy of say Blue Train--there's no mistake that this is Coltrane. You won't find much of the "sheets of notes" scale runs, and there's a deliberate reservation to this approach that's a gratifying change-up from his other albums. It's been said that a mark of a good musician is his/her ability to play ballads without boring people to death. Coltrane achieves this without resorting to exotic chords changes, 16-note scale runs and major-third intervals. To pull off a whole album in that subtle execution is truly sublime.

This is easily one of the best jazz ballads ever made, and the album is right up there with his other famed works like Love Supreme. Make no mistake--it's defies your expectations of what Coltrane "should" be, but that's a good thing.
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Ballads
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