Building A Jazz Library Part 1

But, in 2019 Warner Music Japan issued a mono version of My Favorite Things on UHQCD (WPCR-18248) and it’s every bit as good as the Giant Steps UHQCD issue. Given the timing (of the archivist notes and the UHQCD release date) and great sound, I’m guessing that the same tapes used by ERC were used by Warner Music Japan. TheUHQCD sounds magnificent and even gives the original mono vinyl a run for the money.

Next up in release history was Bags & Trane. Recorded in January 1959, but not released until July 1961, it was the earliest of the Atlantic Coltrane recordings, and it’s a splendid meeting between two titans of jazz. The session was jointly led by Milt Jackson and Coltrane, with Hank Jones on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Connie Kay on drums. Jackson is given first billing in the title (his nickname was “Bags”) and on the spine — and this is really a Milt Jackson session with heavy lifting from Coltrane. There are no Coltrane compositions and Jackson’s signature sound informs throughout. Coltrane’s frequent solos create a magical interaction, with his tenor a sublime foil to Jackson’s vibes. Despite Coltrane’s secondary role, this is among his most outstanding albums. The Mono box CD or vinyl are acceptable alternatives to an original pressing, although the original has a more palpable sense of body and depth.

The fifth Coltrane Atlantic release, Olé Coltrane, was recorded in May of 1961, a couple of days after Coltrane started recording for Impulse! It was released in November 1961, the same month as Impulse! released Coltrane’s Africa/Brass (A-6) and it shares the adventurous spirit of that coming onslaught of Impulse! titles. Atlantic released it ahead of three other Coltrane albums they had recorded earlier but held back, so I’m guessing they shared my enthusiasm for the recording. With its heavy Spanish influence, it suggests Miles Davis’ Sketches Of Spain (Columbia CS 8271) and its modal beauty brings Kind of Blue to mind, while it also contains ‘Aisha’, another of Coltrane’s most elegant ballads. Coltrane plays soprano on two of the three songs, and the music is mesmerizing in the same way as My Favorite Things. It is also the best recorded of the bunch — unlike the other Coltrane Atlantic titles it was recorded at A & R Studios in New York by Phil Ramone. The original sounds good enough to deserve the ‘audiophile’ label and the ORG Music mono reissue of this title sounds outstanding. The vinyl and CD reissues in the mono box are not quite as good as either the original or ORG Music versions, but they are more readily available and impressive in their own right.

The next two releases, Coltrane Plays The Blues (released in July 1962)and Coltrane Sound (released in July 1964)include material recorded during two sessions in October 1960, the same week as My Favorite Things. They share the soprano sax sound of Coltrane and strong playing by Elvin Jones. The fact that these performances were held back and not released until after Coltrane had left the Atlantic label does not make them My Favorite Things outtakes. Both albums are prime Coltrane, but as albums aren’t as congruent as some of the other Atlantic titles. While the earlier album is the greater achievement, Coltrane’s Sound still offers ‘Central Park West’ and ‘Equinox’, two of the most beautifully played ballads in Coltrane’s discography. Coltrane Plays The Blues has been beautifully remastered by Bernie Grundman and released by Original Recordings Group (not ORG Music) – but it is in stereo.