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Four for Trane Original recording remastered

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, April 8, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

Archie Shepp's first major outing was recorded in August 1964 about a year before John Coltrane gathered some of these same players (Shepp and alto saxophonist John Tchicai) in the studio for the recording of Ascension, which would launch the final phase of his career, represented excellently on the two-CD Major Works collection. Shepp's recording was a reverential interpretation of four Coltrane compositions with one Shepp original. While it is a marvelous and insightful slice of jazz in 1964, it coheres and provides very rewarding listening now more than three decades later. Indeed its balance of "out" and "in" playing should provide a model for the new traditionalists in jazz. The arrangements for horns cast the Coltrane compositions in a new light (Roswell Rudd is a delight here on trombone). These are rich compositions played by players respectful of tradition and unafraid of creativity. --Michael Monhart
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 8, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Grp Records
  • ASIN: B000003N9E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,628 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I'm surprised that this album hasn't garnered a little bit more controversy than it has. On one front you can have the Coltrane purists who won't like what he did with almost "sacred" Trane tunes like Naima. On another front are just purists who hate his tone and playing, or don't like his salty personalty. and then there are people who just don't like this type of music at all. Maybe that's why there aren't many reviews (customer wise).
As you probably know, Four For Trane has four songs written by Coltrane, plus an Archie Shepp original with a hilarious title, Rufus (Swung, his face at last to the wind, then his neck snapped). He really breathes such life into the Coltrane tunes even though the needed no such thing on their own. Maybe that's why it's so fresh because he takes them an extra step further. Plus he and Roswell Rudd did some neat arranging and the playing is good in general.
Syeeda's Song Flute, from Giant Steps starts off the disk. Right away you know you're in for something different. To me, the playing sounds a bit more like Ornette Coleman than John Coltrane, this could be due to Charles Moffett on drums who played with Coleman for a while. But the theme is nicely arranged for tenor, alto, and trombone and I like the job they did. Shepp and Rudd solo, and though their lines are great (particularly Shepp's) both of their tones slip a bit (particularly Shepp's!) This shouldn't detract though, because Shepp and Rudd play Awesome! Mr Syms, from the Coltrane Plays The Blues album on Atlantic follows and has some more neat arranging. Everyone blends quite nice, considering the wide range of instruments and tones.
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Format: Audio CD
This is an awesome record!!! Shepp performs 4 coltrane songs (3 from the classic "Giant Steps" and 1 from "Coltrane plays the blues") as well as his own song "Rufus". The band he has here is stellar:on trombone is Roswell Rudd who would become a valuable partner for Shepp on later albums with a dirty, smeared free-meets-dixieland approach. Alto player John Tchicai played with Shepp in the amazing New York Contemporary 5 along with Don Cherry. His style is quite weird:it sometimes sounds like his saxophone was recorded backwards but it is also very melodic and laid-back. Trumpet player Alan Shorter was the brother of superstar Wayne and plays in a Don Cherry-influenced way. Bassist Reggie Workman played with Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane and has a very fluid way of playing the instrument. He was one of the best bass-players of the 60's. Drummer Charlie Moffett is best known for his work with Ornette Colemans 60's trio. His playing here is slightly more conventional but it still kicks ass and really swings!!!
The best description of the music is probably that Shepp gives the Ornette Coleman treatment to Coltranes music. The players play through the themes (wich sounds very different from Coltrane due to the instrumentation) and then doesn't follow any strict chord-changes in the songs, instead following the mood and tempo
of the song-forms. Shepps playing here is brilliant; his tone isn't so big and dramatic (or as brutal)as it became on later albums, instead he focuses on raw, very bluesy, short, broken phrases with a saxophone sound not so different from the swing-players of the 30's like Ben Webster.
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Format: Audio CD
Archie Shepp is more famously known for his Fire Music (Impulse!, 1965), his avant-garde antics at the Village Vanguard in the mid-1960s and for his work with Cotrane in the same period, than for Four For Trane, his first recording on the Impulse! label.
The album has renditions of four Coltrane compositions: "Syeeda's Song Flute", "Mr. Syms", "Cousin Mary" and "Naima". The first opens with a richly orchestrated introduction, which is then sharply contrasted against Shepp's tremulous, fractured delivery. Roswell Rudd offers pointed comments in the background and follows with a similarly abstract solo. The trombone had clearly evolved into unrecognisable territory since the days of J.J. Johnson and Kay Winding!
The first bars of "Mr. Syms" almost presage a dark landscape, but Shepp's arrangement is lithe and subtly textured, bringing out the passion in the composition with an understated eloquence. Alan Shorter, older brother of Wayne, contributes a remarkably impressionistic solo, setting the tone for Archie's equally poetic statement. Pity that Alan Shorter's remaining discography is so thin.
Four For Trane is a mysterious album: it is an avant-garde tribute to a living master who had yet to record his most significant avant-garde albums, A Love Supreme (1964), Ascension (1965) and Interstellar Space (1967), all on the same label as Shepp's. Trane himself appears in a contrived portrait on the cover, on which Shepp stares ahead pensively with pipe in mouth.
"Naima" is arguably the most compelling piece on the album - possibly Coltrane's most played "standard", it is magically arranged by Roswell Rudd, comparable to a tone-poem of Ellingtonian profundity.
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