Personnel: John Coltrane (soprano & tenor saxophones); McCoy Tyner (piano); Jimmy Garrison (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).
Recorded live in Sweden, Germany and Paris, France in 1963. Includes liner notes by Norman Granz.
Digitally remastered by Joe Tarantino (1991, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
Over the years, there has been more than one LP or CD that was titled either The Best of John Coltrane or -- if the label is especially aggressive when it comes to marketing -- "The Very Best of John Coltrane." In the case of this Fantasy-owned Pablo release, The Best of John Coltrane is a misleading title because it isn't really a best-of. A true best-of would offer the most essential, well-known recordings that Trane provided for Prestige, Atlantic, or Impulse!, and this album (which first appeared on vinyl in 1983 and was reissued on CD in 1991) does not fit that description. Pablo's The Best of John Coltrane is actually a 44-minute collection of live performances from the saxman's 1963 tour of Europe, where Pablo founder Norman Granz handled the concert promotion in Sweden, Germany, and France. For this release, Granz picked some of the highlights of that tour -- and even though the album falls short of essential, all of the performances are solid. Coltrane's trailblazing quartet -- Trane on tenor and soprano sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums -- is in fine form on performances of "Chasin' the Trane" and "The Promise" as well as post-bop versions of "Bye Bye Blackbird," Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue," and Cole Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye." The people who will get the most out of this CD are hardcore fans who hold his modal period of 1960-1964 (as opposed to his pre-1960 hard bop period or his radical free jazz period of 1965-1967) in especially high regard. Although not in a class with Live at the Village Vanguard or Live at Birdland, The Best of John Coltrane is an exciting document of Coltrane's European tour of 1963. ~ Alex Henderson