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The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings Box set, Live

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Audio CD, Box set, Live, September 23, 1997
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The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings + The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961 [3 CD]
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Coltrane had only recently moved to the Impulse label when producer Bob Thiele decided to set up recording equipment for performances at the Village Vanguard in November 1961. It was a crucial period in Coltrane's artistic development, as his music assumed apocalyptic power and controversy swirled around his expanded band and marathon performances. The band ranges from a trio with bass and drums for the extended tenor workouts like "Impressions" and "Chasin' the Trane"; to an octet on some versions of "India," where Coltrane's soprano swirls through the throbbing drones and percussion. Among the sidemen are the multireed player Eric Dolphy and drummer Elvin Jones, Coltrane's most inspiring partners, while guests include Ahmed Abdul-Malik on tamboura and Garvin Bushell, a veteran of Jelly Roll Morton's bands, on contra-bassoon. There are more than four hours of music here, with multiple versions of core repertoire and almost every instant packed with passion and invention. These are among the greatest recordings of Coltrane's career. --Stuart Broomer

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Disc 1:

Song Title Time Price
  1. India (Live ( 1961 Village Vanguard))10:33Album Only
  2. Chasin' The Trane (Live (1961/Village Vanguard)) 9:51Album Only
  3. Impressions (Live (1961 Village Vanguard)) 8:52Album Only
  4. Spiritual (Live (1961/Village Vanguard))12:49Album Only
  5. Miles' Mode (Live (1961 Village Vanguard))10:22Album Only
  6. Naima (Live (1961 Village Vanguard)) 7:40Album Only

Disc 2:

Song Title Time Price
  1. Brazilia (Live (1961/Village Vanguard))18:45Album Only
  2. Chasin' Another Trane (Live (1961 Village Vanguard))15:35Album Only
  3. India (Live ( 1961 Village Vanguard))13:14Album Only
  4. Spiritual (Live (1961 Village Vanguard))15:13Album Only
  5. Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (Live At The Village Vanguard/1961) 6:38$0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 3:

Song Title Time Price
  1. Chasin' The Trane (Live At The Village Vanguard/1961)16:08Album Only
  2. Greensleeves (Live (1961/Village Vanguard )) 6:26$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Impressions (Live (1961 Village Vanguard))10:59Album Only
  4. Spiritual (Live At The Village Vanguard/1961)13:48Album Only
  5. Naima (Live (1961 Village Vanguard)) 7:07Album Only
  6. Impressions (Live At The Village Vanguard/1961)14:52Album Only

Disc 4:

Song Title Time Price
  1. India (Live At The Village Vanguard / 1961)14:03Album Only
  2. Greensleeves (Live (1961 VIllage Vanguard)) 5:02$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Miles' Mode (Live (1961 Village Vanguard))15:25Album Only
  4. India (Live (1961/Village Vanguard))15:14Album Only
  5. Spiritual (Live (1961/Village Vanguard))20:40Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 23, 1997)
  • Original Release Date: September 23, 1997
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set, Live
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Impulse
  • ASIN: B000003NA3
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,464 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By G B on June 4, 2001
Format: Audio CD
John Coltrane was no stranger to controversy when he and his quintet arrived at New York's Village Vanguard in 1961; but the controversy that this extremely radical music aroused among jazz audiences, may have been a shock. Critics, including those who a year or two earlier had championed Giant Steps and My Favorite Things, now derided the music as anti-jazz or worse. Granted, this is some of Coltrane's most challenging pre-1965 music; but it is also music filled with incredible invention and joy, music that every open-minded jazz fan should check out. There's "Chasing the Trane" from November 2, where Coltrane pretty much deconstructs the saxophone with honks, whoops, and screams but never quite forgets the joyful, singsong melody; the unforgettable duet between Coltrane and drummer Elvin Jones on the November 3 "Impressions"; and "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise", which features the classic Coltrane quartet and is an interesting comparison to the version that Sonny Rollins recorded four years earlier at the same venue. McCoy Tyner plays wonderful piano on "Greensleeves" and "Softly..."; Elvin Jones is, as usual, superhuman. Eric Dolphy plays some of his finest music, with his vocal style on bass clarinet and alto sax -- from his anguish on both takes of "Naima" to the modal musings of "India". And yeah, several of the tracks are repeated, but each one is a universe to itself. There's really no excuse for not owning this incredible box set, a milestone in jazz and 20th century music.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Peter E. Johansen on April 3, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Well, at the risk of sounding like a "babbling, nonsensical cultist writing reams of gibberish" (as reviewer John Grabowski put it), I do think that the music assembled for this box set is the greatest live recording ever. Or at least greatest to my ears based on my own limited experiences.

While I can't compete with the eloquence or humor of the review I quoted from, I completely disagree with some of the points made. Sketches not worked out? Solos going nowhere that should be "pruned to 5 minutes"? In need of "focused concentration"?

I can't think of any music that more easily defines "focused concentration" than what's recorded here. I've never seen nor heard a group of musicians putting themselves so fervently into their music as the Coltrane quartet does here. I hear relentless searching that makes most so-called experimental music sound like a joke. With Giant Steps and the rest of the sublime Atlantic recordings Coltrane had already created music that is, I think, about as technically complex as jazz music gets, and Coltrane could have easily continued on this path for a lifetime. But here he begins to move in a different more viseral direction that would consume him for the rest of his tragically brief life. And it's impossible for me to imagine musicians more in tune with what he wants than those here, who all take solo after solo at a level of intensity that sends shivers up my spine. When I listen to these recordings I hear the Coltrane quartet (and Dolphy, maybe especially Dolphy) working on a level that I cannot comprehend or describe. This music is - even to an agnostic like myself - absolutely spiritual. And yes, based upon my of course subjective viewpoint, to me these CDs do in fact qualify as the greatest live recording ever.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By "bregt" on November 30, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Those of you who already own the 1-disc version of Live at the Village Vanguard (or plan to buy only that version), may think that those three extra discs aren't essential. Well, you're wrong! Impulse should have released the complete recordings from the start! (Actually they did release almost all of those tracks on several albums, mainly in the 1970's) Maybe you think that four versions of India or Spiritual are too much. Well, in my view it's impossible to pick only one version; each version has a different line-up, a different musical colour, a different mood. And the fact that this recording is complete, gives it an extra documentary value. But contrary to many "documentary" editions this digital remaster has delivered a beautiful clear sonority, really magnificent! It's like Coltrane and his band are standing in front of you. Coltrane and Dolphy are at their best, improvising like you've never heard before. This is in my view one of the essential Coltrane albums, and certainly the best coltrane live recording.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Pharoah S. Wail VINE VOICE on April 17, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Over the past couple days I listened to this for the first time in years. I listened to the Crescent album a few months ago and that was the first and only Coltrane (in terms of one of his own albums) I'd listened to in years. No real reason why I hadn't listened to him hardly at all for so long, I just hadn't.

It turns out I had forgotten how great a set this is. I always loved it, and I remembered loving it, but it's really been knocking me out these past 2 days. A ton has been written about Coltrane himself, and much more will be written in the future. Too little is said about the rest of the band. I think you could not care for Coltrane himself all that much and still love this music. Recorded on 11/1/61, 11/2/61, 11/3/61 and 11/5/61, the bands here (mainly McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Reggie Workman, Elvin Jones and Eric Dolphy) are fantastic. When a Coltrane solo ends, there is no letdown. This is some of McCoy's finest playing ever... much better than on other peoples' Blue Note albums. Garrison, Workman and Jones get it going on in a major way here. Really that is what this set is about for me more than anything... rhythm. It's impossible for me to sit still during this stuff. A churning, pumping cyclone of sound, that's what this band is.

The Indias and Miles' Modes alone would be enough to counterbalance this album even if the rest of the stuff were only worthy of one star, which is not the case. And of course this makes me miss Eric Dolphy, as usual. I'm not sure I'll ever stop wondering what could have been. =(
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The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings
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