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Very Best of John Coltrane Original recording remastered

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Description

John Coltrane made his lasting musical statement during the 60's on the storied impulse Label.

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John Coltrane is a much-anthologized artist. He recorded primarily for three labels in his decade-long stay at the forefront of jazz, whose vaults have yielded numerous best-of recordings in recent years and now two very-bests to commemorate the 75th year of his birth. This collection is drawn from Coltrane's Impulse years, the early '60s when he was the most powerful and influential voice in jazz. The material dates from 1961 to 1964, omitting the more challenging later recordings and emphasizing the classic quartet formation with pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, and bassist Jimmy Garrison. It's a generous collection, with a running time of nearly 75 minutes, and every track is a gem. The highlights of his collaborations with Duke Ellington and singer Johnny Hartman, "In a Sentimental Mood" and "Lush Life," respectively, are here, as is a marvelous rendering of his own beautiful "Naima," recorded at the Village Vanguard in 1961 with Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet. While the famous studio version of "My Favorite Things" belongs to Atlantic, the live version here from the 1963 Newport Festival may well be the greatest of his numerous recordings of the tune. There's an ineffable quality in Coltrane's greatest work that's never been matched, a combination of magisterial creative authority combined with extraordinary tension and expressive depth. It's apparent everywhere here, but perhaps most intensely felt in pieces like "Alabama" and "Crescent," performances that reinvented lyricism in jazz.

For newcomers to Coltrane's music, this is an excellent introduction, comparable, and in some ways superior, to Ken Burns Jazz Collection: John Coltrane or the complementary The Very Best of John Coltrane on Rhino/Atlantic, covering the years 1959-61. While Coltrane aficionados are likely to have most of the material here--some of it multiple times--there's also something for them: a 4 minute 33 second version of "Impressions" that was inadvertently omitted from the eight-CD set of The Classic Quartet: The Complete Impulse Studio Recordings. The only known studio version of a tune that Coltrane reworked repeatedly and at length in live performance, here it's a taut vignette. --Stuart Broomer

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Digital Booklet: The Very Best Of John Coltrane
Digital Booklet: The Very Best Of John Coltrane
Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 24, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Impulse
  • ASIN: B00005M1BK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,034 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
It is an exercise in futility to attempt to bottle the career of John Coltrane into a 10-track "Best Of" collection (even at 75 minutes), but as exercises in futility go, this is as good as it gets. Actually it is a "best of" 1961-1964, his years on the Impulse label, and the quality and variety of this collection are incomparable. Coltrane was a master of both soprano and alto sax, and both are featured here. Most selections feature his famed quartet including McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. Also included are Duke Ellington playing piano on his own "In a Sentimental Mood", and Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet on "Naima", from the live Village Vanguard recordings. Every conceivable Coltrane mood is captured, from bluesy exuberance ("Bessie's Blues"), to tearless mourning ("Alabama"), mystical contemplation ("A Love Supreme - Acknowledgement"), and the late-night world-weariness of "Lush Life" (written by Ellington collaborator Billy Strayhorn and beautifully sung by Johnny Hartman in the quintessential performance of his career). There is also Coltrane's magnum opus, "Afro-Blue", ten minutes of some of the most inspired jazz ever recorded, both richly melodic and full of on-target improvisation. "My Favorite Things", Coltrane's most enduringly popular song, is also included here, but it is the Newport Jazz Festival version, which is longer (17 minutes), less focused and less effective than the definitive studio version (which was on Atlantic, and therefore could not be included in the Impulse collection). One senses that the quartet had already played this song too many times in the intervening three years to give it their best anymore. There is also "Impressions", a never-released treasure.Read more ›
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By A Customer on August 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Having almost every Impulse recording by Coltrane I hesitated to purchase this new compilation. But good sense prevailed and I'm oh so glad I now own this marvelous disc. With ten brillent selections, clocking in at almost 75 minutes, this is far and away the best single disc anthology of this titan of the tennor saxophone. What I like most is the broad range of material covered, from the sensitive and passionate ballards like "In A Sentimental Mood", (with Duke Elington), "Crescent" and Billy Strahorn's masterpiece "Lush Life" to the the famous sheets-of-sound of "Impressions", "Afro Blue" and "A Love Supreme".
In short, if like me, you own most of these recordings or you're looking for an introduction to the colossal talent that was John Coltrane, then look no further. This is the one for you.
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Format: Audio CD
Acknowledgement: The disc begins with Coltrane's most famous tune, the first movement of A Love Supreme. A repetitious bass motif is played around with by the saxophone until it is revealed to be a musical recitation of the title of the album. Who am I to criticise the most worshipped eight minutes in all of 1960s jazz? Yet I never loved "A Love Supreme". Oh well.

In A Sentimental Mood: In 1963 Coltrane recorded a moderately acclaimed album with his great predecessor Duke Ellington. This reading of one of Duke's most beloved melodies is considered by many a classic - (too?) romantic, slow and accessible; one for those who are not well-up with Coltrane's fiercer stuff

Bessie's Blues: This odd little number, short enough to fit on a 78, appeared in the album Crescent. By the time this was recorded, Coltrane's sound was increasingly harsh and uncompromising, yet this is a joyous romp through a simple and catchy blues dedicated to the famous blues singer.

Naima: A bizarre, obscure recording of one of Coltrane's most beloved themes. Unable to get their hands on the classic Atlantic version, Impulse has released this version recorded live at the Village Vanguard in 1961. At the time COltrane could not legally record this tune, due to conflict with his Atlantic contract. So the melody is inverted (actually the tune was notated in the log as "Amain", which is supposed to be "Naima" backwards). So sue me, I don't like the inverted version of the melody at all - try the Antibes performance of 1965 for a truly freaky experience.

Afro-Blue: This is one of Coltrane's famous soprano-waltz standards. Afro-Blue is an inspired choice of tune - it exactly suits Coltrane's far out whacked out soloing, which reaches a frenzy during his second solo. A classic performance.
Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The product arrived yesterday (7/18), ahead of schedule and in great condition. It's good to have a mixed selection of tunes I already have on other CDs, this new compilation is like listening to the music afresh. I'm very happy with this music, especially the shortened version of 'Impressions.'
Thanks much! Regards, Keith
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
The man is a genius. The distinctive manner in which Coltrane plays is highlighted in these carefully chosen selections. This is a great introduction to Coltrane for someone who may not be familiar with his body of work.
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Format: Audio CD
Many "best of" CD's are lousy, but this CD is truly outstanding. You can make a case that this is the best jazz CD ever simply because of the superb selection of John Coltrane's best jazz during the prime mid-to-late years of his career. This CD is highly recommended by the "Penguin Guide to Jazz," which is very unusual for a "best of" CD.
Coltrane's albums are consistently rated among the greatest albums ever made, such as "Giant Steps" and "A Love Supreme." The song "My Favorite Things" gets my vote for "best jazz song ever." Coltrane should be heard by anyone even casually interested in jazz. This CD gives you a great collection of some of his best music.
Outstanding!
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