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Blue Train Extra tracks, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.6 out of 5 stars 289 customer reviews

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Blue Train (Rudy Van Gelder Edition)
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Audio CD, Extra tracks, Original recording reissued, August 5, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

John Coltrane's most important and best selling album after "A Love Supreme", Blue Train gets with Rudy Van Gelder for a 24-bit mastering treatment. This edition features the complete session with alternate takes included.

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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

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 5, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: 1957
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B0000A5A0T
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (289 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #932 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
John Coltrane was a monster of the tenor sax as early as 1955, when he first joined Miles Davis' band. An overachiever, Coltrane had a relentless and unvarying passion for practice, for improving his skills as an artist. As he progressed through his quite legendary career, he never ceased to amaze.
BLUE TRAIN (1957) is a classic; an album often heralded as one of the greatest records of the 1950s by fans and jazz educators alike. It gives the listener a very clear view of what made these musicians so great. You will notice things like Coltrane's (and pianist Kenny Drew's) tasteful and masterful usage of the blues scale in the chant-like title cut. Many musicians have the tendency to drive that scale into the ground when playing the blues. Not so here: these guys were well beyond that sort of thing. On Jerome Kern's "I'm Old Fashioned," you will hear Coltrane's (or was it Kenny Drew's?) ascending-stepwise reharmonization. The Lee Morgan and Curtis Fuller solos on "Locomotion" are a delight, but that's true of the entire album.
It is well known that the Coltrane composition "Giant Steps" (released in 1959) is a bear to play, to improvise on the changes. But, even here, Coltrane was writing tunes that could shake a few people up. "Moment's Notice" is one such tune. It has an ABAC structure (8 bars, 8 bars, 8 bars, 14 bars: a total of 38 bars for one time through)--hard enough to follow--along with a barrage of formidable chord changes. Some say the song got its name when Curtis Fuller asked, "You expect me to play these changes at a moment's notice?"
BLUE TRAIN is certainly deserving of being hailed as a "classic," a term grossly overused these days.
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Format: Audio CD
Is "Blue Train" my favorite John Coltrane album? No, it isn't. Is it still a classic? You bet. Here is a record that captures the essence of cool and exudes style and grace so effortlessly, the music almost seems to float on air. John and his band give nothing less than 100% throughout this album, and their superb playing helped shape up what is now known as probably the most familiar jazz record that isn't performed by Miles Davis. It's been a while since I've listened to this album, but having recently gotten the newly packaged edition, I've reintroduced myself to a "Blue Train" that actually improves over the original recording. For one, the remastered version presents the album the way it was meant to be heard: clean and crisp. The incredible title track and "Locomotion" benefit most from the remastering, and Coltrane's sax playing is even more commanding this time around. Also, we get alternative versions of 2 tracks: the better of the two is "Blue Train." On this version, Coltrane's playing differs quite significantly, but it works just as well. In addition, the disc has an enhanced portion for your PC where you can listen to retrospective interviews from engineer Rudy Van Gelder, as well as a brief black-and-white video where Coltrane is performing with Miles Davis onstage. So if you're new to Coltrane and are unsure which version of "Blue Train" to get, this baby is the one to pick up. The remastering provides a better sound, you get two bonus tracks, and there's a decent handful of extras to view/listen on your computer. "Blue Train" still holds up as a classic, and its remastering and repackaging are well deserved.
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Format: Audio CD
In San Francisco there is a church of St. John Coltrane, they have weekly services, and they have a weekly radio show. Let me try to explain why I'm comfortable with the "St. John". What makes a saint? A saint performs miracles. Coltrane was fortunate in that when he performed his miracles a tape was rolling. For example, I consider his solo on "Blue Train" miraculous. Let me elucidate: I'm a saxophonist myself, and I can play a mean blues solo (not great, but mean), and I can listen to a great blues solo and while I could not have played the solo, I can imagine how it was played, and I recognize the player as a fellow mortal. But with some Trane solos, e.g. on "Blue Train", it's too much. I can't imagine how anyone could have played it, it's too fast, the energy level is too high, the lines are too perfect, the creativity is too great, it's giving expression to an emotion that is too deep. It simple doesn't seem possible that anyone could have played that solo. It is beyond comprehension, awe inspiring. A miracle? Check it out.
So, you might think, it's inaccessible, for the aficionado only. Nope. They released "Blue Train" as a 45! I heard it on the student union jukebox when I came to U.C. Berkeley. It is as accessible as it gets.
Jazz is ephemeral, everything has to be right for the best performances, and everything was perfect on this date. The players were all at the absolute top of their games, the tunes were great, the mood was right, it's a great record in every respect.
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Format: Audio CD
Unquestionably one of the all-time best ever jazz recordings, and probably my favorite Coltrane album. Plenty has already been written here about the music ... this is jazz at it's best! If you just want some great tunes, and don't really care so much about some differences in recording quality, then don't hesitate to get this album today - you won't be disappointed!

The rest of this review is for those folks like me, who do notice subtle differences, and want the best possible sound quality:

Sadly, I have to proclaim my disappointment with this "remastered" release. I also own the 1997 CD release, which sounds significantly better. This new release is over-compressed, and has had a low-quality digital EQ boost in the treble, replacing the nuance and texture of Jones' excellent drumming with a homogenous sizzle - the cymbals have lost all semblance of realism. Blue Note should be ashamed for their mishandling of this historic recording, and especially for caving in to the over-compression fad which plagues the industry. I expect this sort of mindless mastering in bad pop recordings, not the greatest jazz of all time!

To some, this may come off as nitpicking, but I hope you'll excuse my negativity - to me it is disheartening to hear this sort of careless treatment of such treasured music, at the hands of professionals who surely know better.

Coltrane's beautiful music deserves a lot more care than this.

If you would like to own a better copy of this album, do yourself a favor and skip this edition - get the 1997 (20-bit "Super Bit-Map") CD instead. Your ears will thank you.
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