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Expression

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 26, 1993
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Editorial Reviews

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When he died on July 17, 1967, John Coltrane was in a period of exploration, and while his musical pedigree afforded him a level of jazz authenticity that perennial outsiders such as Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, and Cecil Taylor could only dream of, the cathartic, rhythmically turbulent music of 1965-1967 tested the indulgence and endurance of even his staunchest fans. But Coltrane was a creative lightning rod for any number of improvisors, and while a few jazzmen, such as the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Julius Hemphill, followed his spiritual lead, his vertical constructs and open-ended modality also found fruition in the open-ended, electric blues and jazz of groups such as Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the many bands of Trane's old mentor Miles Davis. "Ogunde" is an ecstatic, rolling ballad, all white-peaked waves and billowing winds, in the lyric tradition of A Love Supreme. Likewise, on "Offering," the centerpiece of Expression, Trane proceeds from a stirring lyric prelude, through spasmodic rhythmic abstractions, culminating in a jubilant, wailing dialogue with the droning, pulsating percussion of Rashied Ali. --Chip Stern
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 26, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Impulse
  • ASIN: B000003N6U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,272 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
OK, the music may be wonderful, a spiritual experience and all that, but what my fellow rewiers have forgotten to warn potential buyers about is the fact that this album needs to be remastered as soon as possible - one need only listen to the version of 'offering' released on 'stellar regions' to understand what i'm talking about. In other words: if you are into Rashid Ali's drumming, definetely do not buy this one, for he's the one to suffer most with the poor quality of the sound - his cymbals are hardly audible and, in a general sense, it's as if he were doing some 'percussion' sounds, instead of really thrashing his kit off.
End result: COLTRANE AND BAND 5 STARS - IMPULSE 2 STARS = 3 STARS
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Format: Audio CD
This recording, like all others from Coltrane in his last years ('65-'67) is an example of an artist breaking free of vanity and ego, allowing him to go beyond art into a truly sacred realm, no longer concerned with the trivialities and vain illusions that keep others from really creating something tanscendent. I believe that towrads the end of his life he saw through the concept of time and this philosophy translated into his "spontaneous composition" aproach which is beautifuly clear in this recording. He was no longer playing music, he was molding space-time. He and his band take you to the very core of existence through their improvisations found on this and many other recordings.
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Format: Audio CD
Well, no one can accuse Coltrane of not having an imagination. Improvised music is a tricky art. Lack of an immediately identifiable melody can sometimes make improvisation a daunting and annoying venture. Coltrane was a master of this art however and even though his solos were sometimes long winded, each one of them had at least a few areas of pure, unadultered brilliance. "Expression" is not an easy Coltrane album. There is no such thing as an easy Coltrane album but this one poses a real challenge. This album, for being his last is not as atonal as one might think, but if you haven't heard any Coltrane beyond "A Love Supreme", this album is going to blow you away. He is pretty much playing in a quartet setting here, with Pharaoh Sanders only playing on one track. Most reviews of "Expression" say that it gives no clue to where Coltrane was headed, I think it is a fine last album. It doesn't really show where he was headed because if you listen very carefully, this album has a sense of finality to it. Each track seems laden with wispy overtones of desperation, hopeless and acceptance of fate. Coltrane must have known the end was near when he recorded this. The quartet on this album is not the classic quartet. McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones are gone, Jimmy Garrison is the only existing member from the classic quartet. Rashied Ali is on drums and Alice Coltrane on Piano. It is a very different sound from the sound of the Classic Quartet. More spacious. As far as rhythms go, gone is the polyrhythmic thunder of Elvin Jones, Ali plays in more of a panrhythmic fashion, almost making his drumset sound melodic, as opposed to a timekeeper. He is adding to the sound. Alice Coltrane's piano is lush, rolling and spacious.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In the liner notes to the last album that John Coltrane helped design, producer Bob Thiele quotes Coltrane, a mere two days from his death, discussing a name for this album: "Expression. That's what's it is." There could not be a more accurate statement to describe the music on this important, but long neglected, album.

For listeners who'd been following along, especially those attending the turbulent live shows from 1966, this must have been surprising. Coltrane, after all, had been moving more and more to a volcanic blast of music, shifting his quartet after the departure of McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones to spotlight the lush tension of Alice Coltrane's piano and expansive, multi-rhythmic drums of Rashied Ali. Over this, which lacked the propulsion of late-period Classic Quartet, Coltrane and partner Pharoah Sanders would often lay waste to melody, creating a creature of raw sound. But even within this, there could be traces of the old, melodic Trane: "Peace on Earth", for instance, a track recorded in February, 66 (but unreleased at the time of "Expression") and often played in concert, offered the suspended melody line that so many loved about "Alabama" or "A Love Supreme: Psalm". In 1967, Coltrane began to return to one of his strongest assets. He used less of Sanders (Pharoah only appears on one track here, "To Be", and then is limited to piccolo and percussion) and returned the lyrical "heads" to the songs. Sure, Coltrane was still experimenting with harsher sounds (for the best example of this, see the astounding duo album Interstellar Space), but here he anchors all four pieces with warm, inviting melodies. And then he does something truly original.
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Format: Audio CD
John Coltrane was never one to waste a single note especially with that avalanche of sound he produced. There were many times when an artist creates just to create...freedom from the constraints of record company exectives, producers, and the jazz buying public. I suspect he used the studio in his later years as a sanctuary for pure expression and nothing else and within that solitude of shadows he made his finest work. I think he gave up the commercial side of himself and retreated into the genius that he is. "Expression" was a record company playing on his name and in doing this unwittingly released two or three ("Interstellar Space" being one of them) of the greatest Jazz recordings ever.
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