The Heavyweight Champion is a box set that lives up to its title. Collecting all of John Coltrane's Atlantic recordings, including a fair number of unreleased takes as well as an entire disc of alternate tracks and studio chatter, the seven-disc box set documents a pivotal moment in Coltrane's career, as he was moving from hard bop and sweet standards to a more daring, experimental style of playing influenced by the avant-garde. Much of the music is hard bop (Giant Steps) or lushly melodic (My Favorite Things), but the latter discs show the saxophonist coming to terms with the more experimental movements in jazz. The scope of this music is, quite simply, breathtaking – not only was Coltrane developing at a rapid speed, but the resulting music encompasses nearly every element that made him a brilliant musician, and it is beautiful.
While it's true this set has been given the highest rating AMG awards, it comes with a qualifier: the rating is for the music and the package, not necessarily the presentation. Presentation is a compiler's nightmare in the case of artists like John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, who recorded often and at different times and had most of their recordings issued from the wealth of material available at the time a record was needed rather than culling an album from a particular session.
Here it is: eight CDs worth of John Coltrane's classic quartet, comprised of bassist Jimmy Garrison, pianist McCoy Tyner, and drummer Elvin Jones, recorded between December of 1961 and September of 1965 when the artist followed his restless vision and expanded the band before assembling an entirely new one before his death. What transpired over the course of the eight albums and supplementary material used elsewhere is nothing short of a complete transfiguration of one band into another one, from a band that followed the leader into places unknown to one that inspired him and pushed him further. All of this transpired in the span of only three years.
For many a jazz fan John Coltrane's A Love Supreme is their personal desert island pick, the one recording they would not hesitate to live their days out listening to. Recorded on December 9, 1964, the session has endured as a document of the saxophonist's faith, as it was the proclamation of his rebirth from the jazz life of alcohol and substance abuse.
More than 50 years after Miles Davis and John Coltrane embarked on one last tour of Europe together, fans can finally own this crucial piece of history on The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6, available everywhere today. This 4CD set features, for the first time in an authorized release, five breathtaking performances recorded in Paris, Stockholm and Copenhagen on the Jazz At The Philharmonic European Tour of spring 1960.
Previously available only on a limited Japanese edition. These two sessions were produced by Lee Kraft in 1957 featuring the inimitable tenor saxophonist John Coltrane in two different formats; a quintet with Donald Byrd, Walter Bishop, Jr., Wendell Marshall and Art Blakey, and a 15-piece big band organized by Blakey. Coltrane was featured prominently in both settings and played exceptionally throughout. While the other soloists were all top-notch musicians, Coltranes compositions and performance clearly stole the show. His solos were powerful and confident, ripping out sequences of 16th note lines that soared over the full range of the horn with complete command.
Now regarded as one of the most iconic figures in jazz history, back in the late 1950s John Coltrane was a regular ""gun for hire"" participating in many sessions by studio-assembled bands led by a wide array of leaders. None were more unusual than the two albums he recorded with Ray Draper, a truly unique exponent of modern jazz tuba. Although still in his teens, the prodigal brassman was already a member of drummer Max Roach's group and had begun to emerge as an equally promising composer, highlighted by the number of themes from his pen featured on these two sets. Recorded during Coltrane's celebrated ""sheets of sound"" period, Draper's brace of albums are noteworthy for their inclusion of three compositions written by the other twin-peak of modern jazz saxophone, Sonny Rollins, two of which Coltrane did not record elsewhere.
Soul siren Bettye Swann had been making records for labels big (Capitol Records) and small (Money Records) since 1965 when she connected with Atlantic Records, arguably America's most prestigious soul label, via a production deal with Rick Hall and his Fame Studio in 1972. Over the next four years, Atlantic issued seven singles by Swann with little commercial success, despite collaborating with a variety of fine producers and songwriters, but this collection makes it clear that quality was not the issue that kept Swann from hitting the upper reaches of the charts.