Rolling Stone - 12/25/97, p.164
"...Physical majesty, profound invention and spiritual wonder....marks a point in time when something rare, beautiful and immortal was born..."
Entertainment Weekly - 9/26/97, p.79
"...this historic and exhaustive four-CD set documents a genius in glorious transition." - Rating: A
Down Beat - 1/98, p.564 stars (out of 5)
- "...happily, this set is done properly....these sessions reveal a stunningly emotional and energized Coltrane....these performances demonstrated on record for the first time Trane's new mix of raw emotion and unbridled power..."
Personnel: John Coltrane (soprano & tenor saxophones); Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone, bass clarinet); Garvin Bushell (oboe, contrabassoon); Ahmed Abdul-Malik (oud); McCoy Tyner (piano); Reggie Workman, Jimmy Garrison (bass); Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes (drums).
Producer: Bob Thiele.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded live at The Village Vanguard, New York, New York on November 1, 2, 3 & 5, 1961. Includes liner notes by David A. Wild.
Digitally remastered using 20-bit Super Mapping by Erick Labson (MCA Music Media Studios).
When John Coltrane brought an extended version of his newly-built quartet into New York's Village Vanguard for a week's stay in November of 1961, he and his soon-to-be-longtime producer Bob Thiele already knew that they were about to record Trane's first live dates as a bandleader. After his heavy, big-band Impulse! debut AFRICA BRASS!, Trane's music was streaming further and further into uncharted musical spaces, and recording him was about to become Thiele's raison d'etre. Hence we have nearly four hours of this incomparable music that features, among many other wonders, the controlled swingin' fury of Elvin Jones, the rhythm-defying astral flights of Eric Dolphy's alto sax and bass clarinet, and, of course, crystallization of the leader's other-worldly sonic masterplan. The final statement in acoustic jazz that was John Coltrane's Impulse! Career begins here at the Vanguard. Yes, much of this music has been released piece-meal through the years. But taking in this entire recording (in single or multiple sittings) is an experience onto itself. It is a watershed that well deserves the praise it gets.