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Jazz - Released June 29, 2018 | Impulse!

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“It’s like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid.” Saxophonist Sonny Rollins didn’t weigh his words to describe this previously unreleased session recorded by John Coltrane in March 1963 and released for the first time in June 2018. When it comes to original content, so-called gems and other rarities, labels are masters at scraping the bottom of the barrel and pumping up the cash register with anecdotal, at times completely useless content. In this case however, it’s a completely different story. Although the posthumous discography of John Coltrane, who passed away in July 1967, is already massive, this Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album is turning out to be a prime addition! The most tender of all tenderloins! The ultimate treat! The only negative would be this Lost Album appellation, as no document proves that Trane, or even his producer Bob Thiele, had in any way considered to turn this impeccable session into a proper album… The scene takes place in March 1963. Four days before the saxophonist, surrounded by his legendary Praetorian guard – pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, bass player Jimmy Garrison – recorded an essential album with singer Johnny Hartman. In the afternoon of Wednesday 6th, the quartet dropped by Rudy Van Gelder’s famous studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Just a few hours before going back to Manhattan to perform on stage at the Birdland. The tapes of this session have been retrieved by the family of Naima, Coltrane’s first wife. Fourteen tracks are playable. Fourteen, including two original songs, Untitled Original 11386 and Untitled Original 11383, on which Garrison performs a double bass solo! This marvel is available in a simple edition (seven tracks selected by John’s son, Ravi Coltrane) or Deluxe (all fourteen tracks!). The bond between the four men jumps out like rarely before. Coltrane alternates between deep sequences that foreshadow incoming wild swerves (Untitled Original 11386 and his legendary Impressions), and lyrical moments (the classic Nature Boy). Notes flood down, combining perfectly with McCoy Tyner’s percussive style… Although Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album doesn’t provide any new information on Coltrane’s quartet, it is still a completely indispensable archive, both for its musical and sound quality. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1964 | Impulse!

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One of the most important records ever made, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme was his pinnacle studio outing, that at once compiled all of the innovations from his past, spoke to the current of deep spirituality that liberated him from addictions to drugs and alcohol, and glimpsed at the future innovations of his final two and a half years. Recorded over two days in December 1964, Trane's classic quartet--Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison-- stepped into the studio and created one of the most the most thought-provoking, concise, and technically pleasing albums of their bountiful relationship. From the undulatory (and classic) bassline at the intro to the last breathy notes, Trane is at the peak of his logical and emotionally varied soloing, while the rest of the group is completely atttuned to his spiritual vibe. Composed of four parts, each has a thematic progression. "Acknowledgement" is the awakening to a spiritual life from the darkness of the world; it trails off with the saxophonist chanting the suite's title. "Resolution" is an amazingly beautiful, somewhat turbulent segment. It portrays the dedication required for discovery on the path toward spiritual understanding. "Pursuance" searches deeply for that experience, while "Psalm" portrays that discovery and the realization of enlightenment with humility. Although sometimes aggressive and dissonant, this isn't Coltrane at his most furious or adventurous. His recordings following this period--studio and live-- become progressively untethered and extremely spirited. A Love Supreme not only attempts but realizes the ambitious undertaking of Coltrane's concept; his emotional, searching, sometimes prayerful journey is made abundantly clear. Clocking in at 33 minutes; A Love Supreme conveys much without overstatement. It is almost impossible to imagine any jazz collection without it. ~ Sam Samuelson and Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2015 | Verve Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | GRP Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1964 | Impulse!

Distinctions Elu par Citizen Jazz - The Qobuz Standard
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Jazz - Released May 29, 2012 | Blue Note Records

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Although never formally signed, an oral agreement between John Coltrane and Blue Note Records founder Alfred Lion was indeed honored on Blue Train -- Coltrane's only collection of sides as a principal artist for the venerable label. The disc is packed solid with sonic evidence of Coltrane's innate leadership abilities. He not only addresses the tunes at hand, but also simultaneously reinvents himself as a multifaceted interpreter of both hard bop as well as sensitive balladry -- touching upon all forms in between. The personnel on Blue Train is arguably as impressive as what they're playing. Joining Coltrane (tenor sax) are Lee Morgan (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Kenny Drew (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums). The triple horn arrangements incorporate an additional sonic density that remains a trademark unique to both this band and album. Of particular note is Fuller's even-toned trombone, which bops throughout the title track as well as the frenetic "Moments Notice." Other solos include Paul Chambers' subtly understated riffs on "Blue Train" as well as the high energy and impact from contributions by Lee Morgan and Kenny Drew during "Locomotion." The track likewise features some brief but vital contributions from Philly Joe Jones -- whose efforts throughout the record stand among his personal best. Of the five sides that comprise the original Blue Train, the Jerome Kern/Johnny Mercer ballad "I'm Old Fashioned" is the only standard; in terms of unadulterated sentiment, this version is arguably untouchable. Fuller's rich tones and Drew's tastefully executed solos cleanly wrap around Jones' steadily languid rhythms. Without reservation, Blue Train can easily be considered in and among the most important and influential entries not only of John Coltrane's career, but of the entire genre of jazz music as well. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | GRP Records

Distinctions Elu par Citizen Jazz - The Qobuz Standard
Since most (if not all) of the master tapes from legit Impulse! recording sessions have been released, the label continued on with a "digging in the crates" approach to expanding their John Coltrane catalog. Subsequently, they came across this recording that 'Trane arranged to record without the assistance (or interference) of Impulse!. Olatunji Concert: The Last Live Recording documents a live performance on April 23, 1967, one of the last times Coltrane would appear on stage, as he passed three months later. Strictly as a document, this is a rich and telling recording. It demonstrates his sonic blast free jazz direction that was becoming more aggressive and out of bounds; It portrays what could have been one of the most dynamically stellar groups of the mid-1960s avant jazz scene with Pharoah Sanders (who, in some ways, steals the show), Alice Coltrane, Rashied Ali, and Jimmy Garrison totally ripping it up; it also gives the average collector a taste of what the maniacal collector goes out of their way to find, as the sound quality is on the level of a sub-par bootleg. Don't expect to hear Bob Theil's warm production or one of Rudy Van Gelder's pristine live recordings á la Live at the Village Vanguard. Instead the equalization is uneven, and there are some parts where the tape drops out. Besides that though, this is essential for seasoned Coltrane listeners . ~ Sam Samuelson
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Capitol Records, LLC

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Jazz - Released February 16, 1999 | Rhino Atlantic

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This is one of the most highly underrated entries in Coltrane's voluminous catalog. Although the same overwhelming attention bestowed upon My Favorite Things was not given to Coltrane's Sound upon its initial release, both were actually recorded during the same three-day period in the fall of 1960. So prolific were those recording dates, they informed no less than five different Coltrane albums on Atlantic. The title could not have been more accurate, as each of the six pieces bear the unmistakable and indelible stamp of Coltrane's early-'60s style. "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" and "Body and Soul" (the only tracks not penned by Coltrane) are given unique and distinctive voices. Animating the arrangements on these sessions were Coltrane (soprano/tenor sax), Steve Davis (bass), Elvin Jones (drums), and McCoy Tyner (piano). It's perhaps Tyner's recollection of the quartet as "four pistons in an engine" that most aptly explains the singular drive heard during Coltrane's extended runs on "Liberia." Tyner flawlessly complements Coltrane with full resonating chords that cling to his volley of sound. The rhythmic gymnastics of percussionist Jones is also showcased as his double-jointed bop swing and military band precision are distinctly displayed on the blues "Equinox." The opening six bars give Jones a chance to make a contrasting statement -- which he takes full advantage of. Regardless of the lack of attention, these recordings remain among Trane's finest. [Some reissues add two bonus tracks, "26-2" as well as an alternate take of "Body and Soul."] ~ Lindsay Planer
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Impulse!

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Rhino Atlantic

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History will undoubtedly enshrine this disc as a watershed the likes of which may never truly be appreciated. Giant Steps bore the double-edged sword of furthering the cause of the music as well as delivering it to an increasingly mainstream audience. Although this was John Coltrane's debut for Atlantic, he was concurrently performing and recording with Miles Davis. Within the space of less than three weeks, Coltrane would complete his work with Davis and company on another genre-defining disc, Kind of Blue, before commencing his efforts on this one. Coltrane (tenor sax) is flanked by essentially two different trios. Recording commenced in early May of 1959 with a pair of sessions that featured Tommy Flanagan (piano) and Art Taylor (drums), as well as Paul Chambers -- who was the only bandmember other than Coltrane to have performed on every date. When recording resumed in December of that year, Wynton Kelly (piano) and Jimmy Cobb (drums) were instated -- replicating the lineup featured on Kind of Blue, sans Miles Davis of course. At the heart of these recordings, however, is the laser-beam focus of Coltrane's tenor solos. All seven pieces issued on the original Giant Steps are likewise Coltrane compositions. He was, in essence, beginning to rewrite the jazz canon with material that would be centered on solos -- the 180-degree antithesis of the art form up to that point. These arrangements would create a place for the solo to become infinitely more compelling. This would culminate in a frenetic performance style that noted jazz journalist Ira Gitler accurately dubbed "sheets of sound." Coltrane's polytonal torrents extricate the amicable and otherwise cordial solos that had begun decaying the very exigency of the genre -- turning it into the equivalent of easy listening. He wastes no time as the disc's title track immediately indicates a progression from which there would be no looking back. Line upon line of highly cerebral improvisation snake between the melody and solos, practically fusing the two. The resolute intensity of "Countdown" does more to modernize jazz in 141 seconds than many artists do in their entire careers. Tellingly, the contrasting and ultimately pastoral "Naima" was the last tune to be recorded, and is the only track on the original long-player to feature the Kind of Blue quartet. What is lost in tempo is more than recouped in intrinsic melodic beauty. Both [RoviLink="MW"]Giant Steps [Deluxe Edition][/RoviLink] and the seven-disc Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings offer more comprehensive presentations of these sessions. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Rhino Atlantic

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The complicated rhythm patterns and diverse sonic textures on Olé Coltrane are evidence that John Coltrane was once again charting his own course. His sheer ability as a maverick -- beyond his appreciable musical skills -- guides works such as this to new levels, ultimately advancing the entire art form. Historically, it's worth noting that recording had already commenced two days prior to this session on Africa/Brass, Coltrane's debut for the burgeoning Impulse! label. The two sets complement each other, suggesting a shift in the larger scheme of Coltrane's musical motifs. The assembled musicians worked within a basic quartet setting, featuring Coltrane on soprano and tenor sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, and Elvin Jones on drums, with double-bass chores held down by Art Davis and Reggie Workman. Added to that are significant contributions and interactions with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and Eric Dolphy on flute and alto sax (although Dolphy's contract with another record label prevented him from being properly credited on initial pressings of the album). The title track is striking in its resemblance to the Spanish influence heard on Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain. This is taken a bit further as Coltrane's combo stretches out with inspired improvisations from Dolphy, Hubbard, Tyner, and Coltrane, respectively. "Olé" likewise sports some amazing double-bass interaction. The combination of a bowed upright bass played in tandem with the same instrument that is being plucked has a sinister permeation that undoubtedly excited Coltrane, who was perpetually searching for sounds outside the norm. The haunting beauty of "Aisha" stands as one of the finest collaborative efforts between Tyner, the song's author, and Coltrane. The solos from Hubbard, Dolphy, and an uncredited Tyner gleam from within the context of a single facet in a multi-dimensional jewel. [Some reissues include an extra track cut during the same sessions, "To Her Ladyship."] ~ Lindsay Planer
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Jazz - Released February 27, 1998 | Rhino Atlantic

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Although seemingly impossible to comprehend, this landmark jazz date made in 1960 was recorded in less than three days. All the more remarkable is that the same sessions which yielded My Favorite Things would also inform a majority of the albums Coltrane Plays the Blues, Coltrane's Sound, and Coltrane Legacy. It is easy to understand the appeal that these sides continue to hold. The unforced, practically casual soloing styles of the assembled quartet -- which includes Coltrane (soprano/tenor sax), McCoy Tyner (piano), Steve Davis (bass), and Elvin Jones (drums) -- allow for tastefully executed passages à la the Miles Davis Quintet, a trait Coltrane no doubt honed during his tenure in that band. Each track of this album is a joy to revisit. The ultimate listenability may reside in this quartet's capacity to not be overwhelmed by the soloist. Likewise, they are able to push the grooves along surreptitiously and unfettered. For instance, the support that the trio -- most notably Tyner -- gives to Coltrane on the title track winds the melody in and around itself. However, instead of becoming entangled and directionless, these musical sidebars simultaneously define the direction the song is taking. As a soloist, the definitive soprano sax runs during the Cole Porter standard "Everytime We Say Goodbye" and tenor solos on "But Not for Me" easily establish Coltrane as a pioneer of both instruments. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Jazz - Released September 19, 2000 | Rhino Atlantic

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Coltrane's sessions for Atlantic in late October 1960 were prolific, yielding the material for My Favorite Things, Coltrane Plays the Blues, and Coltrane's Sound. My Favorite Things was destined to be the most remembered and influential of these, and while Coltrane Plays the Blues is not as renowned or daring in material, it is still a powerful session. As for the phrase "plays the blues" in the title, that's not an indicator that the tunes are conventional blues (they aren't). It's more indicative of a bluesy sensibility, whether he is playing muscular saxophone or, on "Blues to Bechet" and "Mr. Syms," the more unusual sounding (at the time) soprano sax. Elvin Jones, who hadn't been in Coltrane's band long, really busts out on the quicker numbers, such as "Blues to You" and "Mr. Day." [Some reissues add five bonus tracks: two alternates apiece of "Blues to Elvin" and "Blues to You," and "Untitled Original (Exotica)." All three were recorded on October 24, 1960.] ~ Richie Unterberger
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Jazz - Released February 22, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

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The first album to hit the shelves after Giant Steps, Coltrane Jazz was largely recorded in late 1959, although one of the eight songs ("Village Blues") was done in late 1960. On everything save the aforementioned "Village Blues," Coltrane used the Miles Davis rhythm section of pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb. While not the groundbreaker that Giant Steps was, Coltrane Jazz was a good consolidation of his gains as he prepared to launch into his peak years of the 1960s. There are three standards aboard, but the group reaches their peak on Coltrane's original material, particularly "Harmonique" with its melodic leaps and upper-register saxophone strains and the winding, slightly Eastern-flavored principal riffs of "Like Sonny," dedicated to Sonny Rollins. The moody "Village Blues" features the lineup of McCoy Tyner on piano, Elvin Jones on drums, and Steve Davis on bass; with the substitution of Jimmy Garrison on bass, that personnel would play on Coltrane's most influential and beloved 1960s albums. [Some reissues add four bonus tracks: alternate takes of "Like Sonny" and "I'll Wait and Pray" that were first issued on Alternate Takes and alternate takes of "Like Sonny" and "Village Blues" that came out on the Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings box.] ~ Richie Unterberger
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Impulse!

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Unlike the knotty difficulties in trying to untie the various knots in the Classic Quartet box of Impulse recordings, the Vanguard sessions represent something else in the canon of John Coltrane's work. In 1961, Coltrane was still experimenting with his quartet format and trying to work in the proper coloration of voicings needed to give his music the proper force and expression he pictured it to have. Something further than Giant Steps and My Favorite Things, but nonetheless shaped and textured by them. To try and discuss the music contained on these four CDs -- to tell something about it that might in some way reveal it to you -- would be completely stupid. What's more important is that the box itself exists and brings together most of the disparate pieces of a particularly strange puzzle, but not all. The music contained on these CDs represents tunes that were recorded for the eventual purpose of release on November 1-3 and November 5, 1961. The quartet does appear here -- Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, and Jimmy Garrison -- but there is also the addition of Eric Dolphy, since it was a quintet for these dates at the very least, an oud player on some tracks named Ahmed Abdul-Malik, and Roy Haynes occasionally sitting in on drums as well as Reggie Workman alternating in the bass chair. What it adds up to is some of the most exploratory music Coltrane ever recorded -- and it was done not only in front of a live audience, but also in the presence of some mighty hostile critics. It was on this fire ground of the test that Coltrane revealed for the first time his interest -- as well as Dolphy's -- in the Indian motivic mode of improvisation, his fascination with the odd time signatures of African rhythms, and the manner in which he used scalar, modal, and harmonic forms as integrational aspects to both composition and improvisation. And while its full articulation would come on later studio recordings and in later performances, this laboratory effect offers plenty in the way of revelation here. Originally, the Vanguard performances were released on four different albums: Impressions (two of the four tracks it featured), Live at the Village Vanguard, The Other Village Vanguard Tapes, Trane's Modes, and From the Original Master Tapes. This is the first collection that brings together all 22 performances of nine different tunes recorded on those four evenings. Yes, there was a lot more music played during those evenings, but producer Bob Thiele recorded these performances with the probable intention of release. There are four versions of "India" and "Spiritual," three each of "Chasin the Trane," two of "Naima" (one of them very different from the Atlantic version, one with an inverted melody), two each of "Greensleeves," "Impressions," and "Miles' Mode," and one each of "Brasilia" and "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise." The obvious reason for comparison is the difference in color and tone between the Haynes/Workman rhythm section and the Jones/Garrison one. The other is how differently Coltrane and Dolphy would play together night to night. One evening Coltrane would open and close a tune, letting Tyner and Dolphy solo, and the other it would be the reverse, and the instrumental variations would shift from tenor to soprano in Coltrane's case to alto and bass clarinet in Dolphy's dig-his-bass clarinet solo on "Naima." Here on these four CDs are the exhaustive discoveries of a lifelong search and the beginning of a kind of restlessness in Coltrane's life that would consume him. Musically, the music found here is as fine as anything ever recorded in jazz history. These performances are remarkable in their certitude and in the generosity of their communication as well as in the depth and profundity of their statements. Forget the single-disc compilation, this set is one of the most important live sets from the '60s. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | Impulse!

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The year 1965 was a turning point in the life of John Coltrane. It was at this point that he crossed the line into the free jazz arena that he had been approaching since the early '60s. Besides his landmark Ascension, no album better illustrates this than the awe-inspiring Meditations. Coltrane's regular quartet -- McCoy Tyner (piano), Jimmy Garrison (bass), and Elvin Jones (drums) -- is expanded here with second drummer Rashied Ali (who assumed Jones' spot after this album) and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. This conglomeration produces some dense textures, especially in the epic first track "The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost." This sonic hurricane is a 13-minute outpouring of spiritual emotion that is at once compelling and exhausting. Elsewhere, the group delicately follows Coltrane's lead on the passionate "Love" and swings with abandon on the raucous "Consequences" as Sanders and 'Trane battle like warriors above the churning rhythm section. Finally, the aptly titled "Serenity" is a swirling free-form improvisation gently touching back down to earth after an adventurous ride through the heavens.
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1963 | Impulse!

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Arguably John Coltrane's finest all-around album, this recording has brilliant versions of "Afro Blue" and "I Want to Talk About You"; the second half of the latter features Coltrane on unaccompanied tenor tearing into the piece but never losing sight of the fact that it is a beautiful ballad. The remainder of this album ("Alabama," "The Promise," and "Your Lady") is almost at the same high level. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | GRP Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
This LP, re-released in 2000 and whose contents have been reissued in different sets on CD, features John Coltrane in two different settings. "Vigil" and the spiritual ballad "Welcome" showcase tenor saxophonist Coltrane with his classic quartet (pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones) in June 1965. Dating from October 14, 1965, it adds tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, Donald Garrett on bass clarinet and second bass, second drummer Frank Butler, and percussionist-vocalist Juno Lewis to the quartet and is a bit of an oddity. Lewis' chanting and colorful percussion make this a unique if not essential entry in Coltrane's discography. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2011 | Impulse!

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Recorded at two sessions in early 1967, Expression represents John Coltrane's final recording sessions just months before his death. A varied and searching record, Coltrane shares space with fellow universal travelers Pharoah Sanders, Jimmy Garrison, Rashied Ali, and wife Alice Coltrane. This band, working hard during the time leading up to Coltrane's demise, was performing in the most spiritually reaching territory Coltrane would aspire to. This is evidenced by the burning tenor/drum duet section of "Offering," perhaps the highlight of these sessions. Coltrane and Ali spiral into the far reaches here with a boundless energy that somehow remains controlled and restrained even in its rawest moments. The group succeeds in lifting the piece up to its highest peak and then setting it back down in a way so organic it feels almost ordained by a mass mind. The track, like all Coltrane at his best, becomes a guided meditation. The 16-minute vamp of "To Be" is perhaps the most quizzical and interesting piece here, finding Trane on flute, an instrument that he never gave much air time to on previous sessions. Coltrane trades gentle, lilting runs with Sanders' sometimes distant, sometimes atonal piccolo flute, stretching out into discordant waters somewhere in the middle of this lingering piece. Bedded by Alice Coltrane's brightly mystical piano clouds, the track would sound more at home on one of her solo albums than her husband's, but denotes their mingling inspirations. At the time these sessions were put to tape, Coltrane had been silently suffering from undiagnosed liver cancer for some while. His death was a shock to many in the jazz community who had no idea he was even sick, let alone nearing the end. It's remarkable that Expression is not some world-weary harbinger of death and sickness, but an endlessly jubilant affair. Even in what must have been a time of tremendous pain and darkness, Coltrane's single-minded quest for understanding and transcendence took him to places of new exploration and light. [Some issues of Expression include final track "Number One," a nearly 12-minute surge of raw, rolling interplay between Coltrane's tenor and Sanders' upper-register woodwinds.] ~ Fred Thomas