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Olatunji Concert: The Last Live Recording Live

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Audio CD, Live, September 25, 2001
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Product Description

It's been talked about for years but has never been available until now: Coltrane's last live recording, taped in NYC in April 1967, just three months before his death. As a historic document its place is secure; as a listening experience it is yet further proof that Trane was one of the most passionate, challenging artists of his time. The introduction is followed by Ogunde and My Favorite Things -over an hour of intense, unreleased Coltrane!

Recorded just a few months before John Coltrane's death on July 17, 1967, the importance of this document cannot be overstated. It captures the legendary tenor and soprano saxophonist live in concert at the Olatunji Center of African Culture in Harlem. Backed by an ensemble featuring his wife, pianist Alice Coltrane, bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Rashied Ali, and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, Coltrane unleashes his most impassioned and complex performance on disc. The two extended compositions on this date, the Afro-Brazilian folk tune "Ogunde" and "My Favorite Things," are taken to their harmonic and rhythmic limits by Coltrane and company. Coltrane quite simply went where no musician had gone before. --Eugene Holley Jr.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 25, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Umvd Labels
  • ASIN: B00005MAWI
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,051 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By G B on November 23, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is the last live recording of saxophonist John Coltrane; by the time it was committed to tape, he and his quintet had ventured deep into free jazz territory, alienating many of his original fans and polarizing the jazz world. The music abandoned harmony and pulse, instead consisting of ecstatic and/or frightening solos over a churning rhythmic backdrop offered by drummer Rashied Ali and several percussionists. And Trane's partner in the front line, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, angered many fans with his harsh style of screams and groans.
This performance gives you a taste of that quintet -- sort of. The sound here is really bad, like a below-average bootleg. (Much worse than the Coltrane/Monk recordings from the Five Spot, if you want a point of reference.) It deteriorates as the CD progresses and by "My Favorite Things", the only things you can hear are the horns and Ali's thrashing drums; those instruments are so distorted that Trane's soprano sax reminds me of Little Walter's harmonica on those great Chess recordings!
That said, these are better performances than other currently available recordings of this band. (Live in Japan and Live at the Village Vanguard Again, both from 1966.) "Ogunde" is incredible, from Coltrane's anguished reading of the melody to his exploratory solo for the last ten minutes; Alice Coltrane contributes a piano solo -- one of the few places you can hear her on this recording. "My Favorite Things" is similar to other performances of this staple by this group: not many references to the melody, but instead a moaning and busy exploration beginning with a Jimmy Garrison bass solo and culminating with a saxophone duel by Coltrane and Sanders.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jack Jones on October 1, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm torn with this cd. As a enthusiastic fan of Coltrane's late period (1966-7) I bought "Olatunji Concert" without question. I knew the music would be in the stratosphere and it is, ala "Live from the Village Vanguard Again" and "Live in Japan". That I love. The band is energetic and don't disappoint musically. Unfortunately the sound is horrible. There is a lot of distortion and it's midrange heavy. I had to take a breather midsong from ear fatigue and think there should be a warning on the back cover.

If you love late Trane you'll want it-it's late Trane! If you're just getting into him please don't start here. His music is so beautiful and inspiring I wouldn't want you to get off on the wrong foot. Try "Live at Birdland" if you want a good place to start for his Impulse years.


4/10/06: I have to update my review of this cd to state that I never play it because the sound is so bad. As a result, my rating goes from 3 stars to 2. Pains me but, despite the music, this cd sounds horrible.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Fast on November 8, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Never before have I cared to write a review of a CD. Taste is not universal, and generally I prefer to have my own, and let others have theirs (as long as they are justified). But this CD NEEDS to be heard, and I NEED to tell people to listen to it. The Olatunji concert absolutely shattered me in the most beautiful and intense way possible. It redefined jazz for me, reinvigorated my love for it, and ultimately showed me what art looks like in its purest form, devoid of one extraneous ounce of aesthetic packaging. Coltrane took every ounce of himself, and rather than devoting it to a polished sound, applied every bit of it to the feeling behind that sound. This is artistic purity like I have never before seen. Still, many people will get a headache from this. Shoot, sometimes I get a headache from it, but a headache like one I would get from reading a philosophy text and repeatedly having my brain stretched out...the absolute best kind of headache. This record changed me, and even if you don't "enjoy" it on a listening level (I personally do) you must still try to recognize how much there is to be learned from this, not necessarily in music, but in life and art in general. As for the recording, yeah, it's a bit shoddy, but I tend to like the noisy overdriven intensity it produces. Like the music, it bypasses capturing the sound and captures the feeling of it all, which is what it's all about in the first place, isn't it? good luck...
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Peter E. Johansen on March 13, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I waited a while to get this one (this was probably close to the 50th Coltrane CD I have purchased), and I was initially very reluctant to order this, mostly because I had heard negative comments about the recording quality. While it's true that the sound quality is not great, it's really not that bad either. At times the distortion that I hear even complements the music somehow. Pharoah Sanders really doesn't even sound like he's playing tenor, more like an electric guitar combined with human screaming, and he is, by the way, on fire this particular evening. This may be my favorite live recording of this group; it certainly made me fall in love with this era of Coltrane all over again. The two percussionists backing Ali also add to the power of this performance.

This is probably not the place to start if you're just getting into Coltrane, but I would certainly highly recommend this CD to anyone who already feels passionately about the music of John Coltrane.
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