John Coltrane – Afro Blue Impressions (Remastered & Expanded) (1973/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 125:51 minutes | 3,99 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital booklet | @ Pablo Records
Concord Music Group will reissue a remastered and expanded edition of John Coltrane’s Afro Blue Impressions album on August 20, 2013. Enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, three bonus tracks, and new liner notes, the new reissue celebrates the 40th anniversary of Pablo Records, the jazz label founded by Norman Granz in 1973.
Afro Blue Impressions represents an anniversary within an anniversary. By the time Granz launched Pablo in 1973, he’d already stockpiled several years worth of previously-recorded tour performances in his vaults, including these sets from Stockholm and Berlin in late 1963 (October and November, respectively). This new two-disc reissue of the classic Coltrane Pablo album – originally released as a double LP in 1977 – arrives just a few weeks ahead of the 50th anniversary of the original concerts.
Coltrane fronts a stellar quartet on both European dates that includes McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. In addition to the nine tracks that appeared in the original Afro Blue Impressions double album, the reissue also includes three bonus tracks from the Stockholm date: “Naima,” “I Want To Talk About You,” and “My Favorite Things.”
“When you compare and contrast the performance of a composition that was released on the original album to a different performance of the same composition from among the bonus tracks,” says Afro Blue Impressions reissue producer Nick Phillips, “it perfectly illustrates just how restlessly creative Coltrane and his band were. Each song was a springboard for unpredictable improvisation and boundless creativity.”
“These tracks brim with the wonder and the power of discovery,” says Neil Tesser, author of the new liner notes accompanying the reissue. “At this juncture, the Coltrane Quartet existed in a state analogous to quantum mechanics . . . Each new performance yielded new insights. As the musicians gathered this data and sifted through it, they would arrive at the polished theories underlying the eventual masterworks to come, such as the album Crescent and the monumental suite A Love Supreme – achievements that would then launch a new age of chaotic discovery, on such albums as Om, Sun Ship, and Meditations. How much those recordings will resonate on their 50th anniversaries will likely engender some controversy; Coltrane didn’t live long enough to complete the journey that began with them, and the jury remains out, even decades later, regarding the impact of that work. But history long ago weighed the import of his work in 1963, when his music stretched and struggled its way toward becoming Coltrane’s iconic stylistic statement”.
The recordings that make up Afro Blue Impressions were acquired by jazz impresario/auteur Norman Granz during the tours he produced for many jazz artists during the 1960s, though they weren’t issued until 1973. Recorded at shows in Berlin and Stockholm, the John Coltrane Quartet — with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones — is in tremendous form here, using a familiar repertoire in order to expand upon the group’s own building blocks in creating the new post-harmonic system that the saxophonist was developing. This is evident almost immediately in the first few minutes of opening number “Lonnie’s Lament,” where Coltrane begins reaching with his arpeggios to notes that aren’t even on the horn in his frenetic solo and his duet with Jones. That said, there is enough of the quartet’s own engagement with the tune’s original architecture to satisfy all but the most conservative of Coltrane listeners. The brilliant razor-sharp focus on restraint and lyricism applied in “Naima” reveals Tyner utilizing numerous subtly shaded chord voicings to prod Coltrane’s tender lyric exploration of the melody. Of course, the 21-minute version of “My Favorite Things” points directly at the territories the quartet would explore on the forthcoming albums Crescent and A Love Supreme and, in its most adventurous moments, somewhere beyond them. Tyner’s arpeggios and ostinatos are sharp and fleet here, responding to Jones’ driving snare and cymbals. Coltrane’s soprano moves between blues, Dorian modes, and even Eastern scalar articulations in his solo. “Afro Blue” is a rhythm collision, where mode gives way to some of Trane’s most angular soprano playing, pushing the limits of the instrument and his own dexterity to near breaking points. As the two long set-closers — “Spiritual” and “Impressions” — reveal, the group was not yet finished with more formal structures. They push at them, but still engage conventional ideas of harmony even as modes and meta scales dominate. Ample evidence can be found in the moaning gospel overtones of the former, which bring out the deep blues in Tyner’s solo, and in Coltrane’s knotty bop head, which commences the latter in advance of his manic, wildly imaginative solo. Afro Blue Impressions is the sound of one of the greatest — albeit short-lived — quartets in jazz history completely coming into its own in concert.
CD1 #01 – Lonnie’s Lament
CD1 #02 – Naima
CD1 #03 – Chasin’ The Trane
CD1 #04 – My Favorite Things
CD1 #05 – Afro Blue
CD1 #06 – Cousin Mary
CD2 #01 – I Want To Talk About You
CD2 #02 – Spiritual
CD2 #03 – Impressions
CD2 #04 – Naima [Stockholm 10/22/63]
CD2 #05 – I Want To Talk About You [Stockholm 10/22/63]
CD2 #06 – My Favorite Things [Stockholm 10/22/63]
John Coltrane – tenor sax, soprano sax
McCoy Tyner – piano
Jimmy Garrison – double bass
Elvin Jones – drums