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Major Works of John Coltrane
     

The Major Works of John Coltrane

by John Coltrane
 
Ascension is where John Coltrane drew the line in the sand and dared others to cross. From here on in, the iconic saxophonist was committed to exploring the outer edges of jazz. One of his most innovative and demanding recordings, Ascension is now part of this double-disc set which mates two takes of the epochal piece with the extended Coltrane works "Om

Overview

Ascension is where John Coltrane drew the line in the sand and dared others to cross. From here on in, the iconic saxophonist was committed to exploring the outer edges of jazz. One of his most innovative and demanding recordings, Ascension is now part of this double-disc set which mates two takes of the epochal piece with the extended Coltrane works "Om," "Selflessness," and "Kulu Se Mama" -- three touchstones of his later experimental period. Ascension is often compared to Ornette Coleman's monumental Free Jazz; both recordings consist of a single extended, open-ended improvisation made by an enlarged ensemble. Coltrane's piece, recorded four years after Coleman's, is both denser in instrumental texture and strikingly more dissonant. With avant terrors Archie Shepp and Pharoah Sanders blaring their saxophones, the music flirts with chaos, but "Ascension," like "Free Jazz," never loses a sense of discernible swing; thanks, in Coltrane's case, to the great drum dynamo Elvin Jones. "Om," "Selflessness," and "Kulu Se Mama," are each highly intense pieces that add exotic elements -- additional percussion, vocal chanting -- to Coltrane's typically full-throttle approach. While these works are a departure from 'Trane classics "Giant Steps" and "My Favorite Things," those willing to follow Coltrane's daring muse will find incalculable rewards.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Huey
Over the course of two crucial discs, The Major Works of John Coltrane compiles the saxophonist's most important extended free jazz pieces from 1965. This is the material that made Coltrane a giant of the avant-garde, completely casting off the limits of melody, harmony, and tonality that he'd been straining against. All the performances feature Coltrane's classic quartet augmented by Pharoah Sanders and several others, depending on the session. Literally and figuratively, the biggest piece here is of course "Ascension," the album-length, 11-piece free improvisation that finally picked up the gauntlet thrown down by the release of Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz four years earlier. Present in both of its two takes, it's among the most frightening jazz performances ever committed to tape, pairing Coltrane's search for spiritual transcendence with a screeching ferocity (courtesy of five saxophones) that never lets up. Ascension was far more abrasive and visceral than Free Jazz, benefiting from four years of development in jazz's avant-garde, which helped make each individual player's voice more suited to this kind of chaotic, textural music. Not all of Coltrane's free work was this consistently extreme, but it did come close in isolated moments. The incantatory "Om" expands on Ascension by contrasting the same sort of passionate, banshee-scream ensembles with eerie, meditative passages, bookending the piece with poetic recitations. "Kulu Se Mama," based on a song by percussionist/vocalist Juno Lewis, further explores the ritualistic dimension of "Om" with subtle hints of danceability and Creole/Caribbean flavor. "Selflessness" is the most conventional of the pieces, starting out like a standard Coltrane Quartet piece before moving into the large-ensemble explorations. There's a lot to digest here, but as an encapsulation of Coltrane's freest and most challenging music, there's no better place to turn.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/21/1992
Label:
Grp Records
UPC:
0011105011327
catalogNumber:
113
Rank:
80029

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

John Coltrane   Primary Artist,Tenor Saxophone
Marion Brown   Alto Saxophone
Frank Butler   Percussion,Drums
Art Davis   Bass
Elvin Jones   Drums
Archie Shepp   Tenor Saxophone
Jimmy Garrison   Bass
McCoy Tyner   Piano
Joe Brazil   Flute,Percussion
Donald Rafael Garrett   Bass,Percussion,Bass Clarinet
Freddie Hubbard   Trumpet
Dewey Johnson   Trumpet
Juno Lewis   Percussion,Vocals
Pharoah Sanders   Percussion,Tenor Saxophone
John Tchicai   Alto Saxophone

Technical Credits

John Coltrane   Composer,Producer
Dave Grusin   Executive Producer
Michael Cuscuna   Producer
Rudy Van Gelder   Engineer
Jan Kurtis   Engineer
Juno Lewis   Composer
Larry Rosen   Executive Producer
Bob Thiele   Producer
David Wild   Liner Notes
Julian Lewis   Composer

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