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Infinity

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 7, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Digitally remastered edition of this posthumous 1972 release from the Jazz great. Infinity is an album by Alice Coltrane, overdubbing recordings by her late husband. Alice Coltrane's controversial 're-imagining' of her husband's late works was criticized by both fans and critics, as she took his original performances and superimposed them over lush orchestral backgrounds and re-dubbed rhythm section parts, as well as recording new solos on piano, organ, harp and timpani.
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
1
30
8:32
Album Only
2
30
10:28
Album Only
3
30
Joy
Joy
7:55
Album Only
4
30
Leo
Leo
9:52
Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 7, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Verve Select
  • ASIN: B005VR96P2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,549 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Of all of Coltrane's posthumously released work, this one is the most infamous, and with good reason. In 1972, none of these songs (save live versions of "Peace on Earth" and "Leo") had been heard or released before, so imagine the anger of fans to find out that prime, unreleased Coltrane (and all four of these songs count as that) were being overdubbed with...strings.

This was not uncommon in this time, and fans were surely remembering such infamous, syrupy treatments as the Wes Montgomery live sessions that should've sizzled and popped but instead were covered in goop. Fortunately, this is not the case here. The arrangements were done by Alice Coltrane, and they are far more Eastern in sound than the Hollywood-inspired strings of most overdubbed work. For the most part, Mrs. Coltrane holds the arrangements back so that Coltrane's solos are not obstructed; still, I imagine that if I heard this WITHOUT having access to the original recordings, I would be a little upset. Speaking of the original recordings, perhaps the only true "wrong" done by Alice was that she wiped out most of Jimmy Garrison's bass lines (replaced by Charlie Haden - not a bad choice, but why do this in the first place?) and replaced her own piano work on "Peace on Earth". Further, these specific, non-orchestral overdubs were PERMANENT, and when the arrangement-free "Peace on Earth" was finally released a few years later, the recording could not be heard in its original instrumentation.

That said, "Peace on Earth" still sounds great on Jupiter Variation (I assume that record will receive an affordable reissue next time?
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Format: Audio CD
Jazz purists, lovers of Blue Train, enter this Kingdom carefully. This is not your hard bop delight or even a John Coltrane authorized album.

ABC Impulse had stacks of unissued tapes of John Coltrane after the jazz leader--who met incredible monetary success--died in 1967. They issued these into the early 1970's. Infinity takes this one step further: Coltrane's sax solos are dubbed on top of symphonic music that sounds more like the work that his wife, Alice, was doing after the master passed.

You can argue the ethics of this, or if the ever-experimental Coltrane would have taken such a direction had he lived. But there is no disputing how good this sounds. Trane's, razor-slice, hundreds of notes per minute sax playing sounds amazing atop these celestial, floating, orchestral arrangements. Even in a band with such dominant and dense players as McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, Coltrane's piercing tenor always sailed distinctly over top. Here, it actually blends in to the heavy orchestrations, becoming part of this beautiful cosmic tapestry. It is as if the guru has finally found music big enough to contain his massive sound.

Of course this happened in control room after Coltrane left us, but forget the implications, what was or what would or would not have been and listen to this gorgeous, heavenly music.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Somehow, although a Coltrane aficionado (to put it mildly), I had never heard this recording. It may have not been released on CD previously, and I had never seen the album.

While only 38-minutes long (which was normal for an LP at the time), this recording brings the widow of John Coltrane back to his recorded music. Alice takes selected solos (all incomparable) from her late husband (d. 1967) and orchestrates them with strings, organ, harp, and more. The effect is often magical, majestic--although, at times, a bit cluttered. Yet the density is not deadly, but alluring, entrancing. I plan on listening to it many more times.

Mrs. Coltrane understood her husband's work. The orchestrations seems to fit the earlier solos, which were recorded with a smaller group. We still hear Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones as supporting musicians. These were members of "the classic quartet" (1960-1965). We also hear from Charlie Haden on bass.

While I cannot endorse the references to the philosophy of astrology in some of the music, the music itself stretches the soul in new directions. For this, I am thankful.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I've been a Coltrane fanatic for over 30 years, and tonight I heard this album for the first time. I'm giving it four stars, perhaps because I can't conceive giving a lower rating to anything by Trane. But I have to say, the overdubbed arrangements on this album are a serious detraction. I've heard all the songs in the non-overdubbed form, and I greatly prefer them as originally conceived. "Joy" was the last classic quartet studio cut, and is now included on "First Meditations". I found the studio version of "Peace On Earth" to be one of my very favorite late Coltrane recordings when I had it in vinyl form. Sadly, the originals of "Peace On Earth" and "Leo" are both out of print in the U.S., and obscenely expensive on import discs.

To me, it seems almost sacrilege to mess with Trane's original recordings. I realize that this was done by his widow, so I can more or less let it pass, but I would be outraged if anyone else had the temerity to do something like this. Google "Pat Metheny vs. Kenny G" for an illuminating essay/rant Metheny wrote about overdubbing the work of jazz immortals.

This recording seems like an oddity, a weird footnote to Trane's immortal legacy.

AFAIK, the original versions of "Peace On Earth" and "Leo" are not available in the U.S. on CD or as (legal) mp3 downloads. They came from the early 1966 "Cosmic Music" session. Actually, "Manifestation" from "Cosmic Music" is thought to be a segment edited out of the complete version of "Leo". I wish Impulse would make a proper release of that session, with the complete versions of "Peace On Earth", "Leo", and "Reverend King", if the masters still exist.
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