The Wire - 6/01, pp.42-3
"...The most dramatic symptom of Coltrane's self-professed 'drum fever'....precipitating some of the most inventive playing...each of them carving and shaping new ways of relating to naked sound, all color and notion..."
Down Beat - 3/92, p.484 Stars
- Very Good - "...the best case for the formalism that accompanied his spiritualism..."
Down Beat - 12/00, p.944 stars out of 5
- "...His most unconventional titles....putting the emphasis on pure expression in this all-Coltrane program. His tenor challenges drummer Rashied Ali for all he's worth..."
Before track 1 there is a fragment of music from a sound check and two false starts of "Jupiter Variation." You must rewind from track 1 to hear them.
Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone, bells); Rashied Ali (drums).
Producer: John Coltrane.
Reissue producer: Bryan Koniarz.
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on February 22, 1967. Includes liner notes by Francis Davis.
Digitally remastered by Kevin Reeves (Universal Mastering Studios-East).
Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone, bells); Rashied Ali (drums, percussion).
Recording information: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ (02/22/1967); Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ (02/22/1967).
Photographer: Chuck Stewart.
Unknown Contributor Role: Ali Tabatabaee.
These provocative duets were recorded right in between the two quartet sessions which yielded Coltrane's swan song, EXPRESSION. INTERSTELLAR SPACE is suffused with the searching fervor which distinguished Coltrane's conclusive works. Coltrane and Ali come on like a roller-coaster ride to Valhalla, playing as if their lives depended on it. The level of technical brinkmanship and emotional intensity is amazing--all the more so when you consider that Trane would be dead of liver cancer just four months later.
Faced with one's own mortality, even the most faithful of servants--from Job to Jesus--must finally ask...why? With so much left to accomplish, it's unlikely Trane meant to leave his legacy on such a suspended note. But with time running out, INTERSTELLAR SPACE finds Coltrane contemplating the cosmos in all its raging complexity and infinite wonder. Lashed to the foretop of his crystal ship, Trane stares defiantly into the teeth of the storm, as Rashied Ali's rolling, windswept rhythmic pulse provides him with an elemental spark. And the tenor saxophonist responds with dramatic urgency, as if he were literally trying to break on through...to exist as pure spirit.
Such is the biblical magnitude of these performances. While the heraldic rapture of "Venus" suggests the spiritual grace and acceptance of the psalms, "Mars," "Leo" and "Jupiter" admonish man in the babbling tongues of Revelations and the final days. Listen particularly to Coltrane's tone, as he evokes the eternal characteristics of the horn: its beckoning, portending, invocational quality.
"Saturn" is the final frontier. Technically, Trane does impossible things on his horn. He creates cubist shapes and man-sized flourishes that are more akin to violin triple-stops, piano arpeggios and drum rolls than the tenor saxophone, manipulating multiphonics and overtones to speak in three registers simultaneously--every note touched with a human cry. And yes, that is a hint of swing you hear coming through the outer rings, and an echo of "Chasin' The Trane" peeking through the meteor shower. It's an appropriate metaphor, because John Coltrane never stopped pursuing rainbows, which is why listeners will be discovering his music a thousand years from now.