Down Beat - 2/96, p.415 Stars
- Excellent - "...incredibly fresh. The crystalization of Coltrane's post-'64 sound--which alternated hymnlike expressions with rougher, more jagged blowing as well as more vibrato and high-register playing....Melodies are typically brief, unadorned as the saxophonist jumps off to explore new terrain....the man clearly went out with a bang, or two."
JazzTimes - 3/96, p.89
"...reshape[s] our understanding of 'late period Coltrane'....Coltrane was again in transition. This emerging phase of Coltrane's work promised to be markedly reductivist....more contemplative as well....STELLAR REGIONS defies the pat myth that Coltrane sojourned into the ecstatic sound energy of albums like OM and LIVE IN JAPAN on a one-way ticket."
STELLAR REGIONS consists of Coltrane's entire February 15, 1967 recording session. All selections were previously unavailable--except "Offering," which appeared on EXPRESSION.
Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); Alice Coltrane (piano); Jimmy Garrison (bass); Rashied Ali (drums).
Producers: John Coltrane, Bob Thiele.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on February 15, 1967. Includes liner notes by David A. Wild.
Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); Alice Coltrane (piano); Rashied Ali (drums).
Liner Note Author: David Wild.
Recording information: Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ (02/15/1967).
Photographers: Jim Marshall ; Chuck Stewart.
Producer Bob Thiele had the foresight to realize that John Coltrane's creative arc was ascendant, allowing the saxophonist unlimited studio time during their years at Impulse! However, many of the sessions from the final year of his life were long presumed lost, when in fact, they were safely stored away in wife Alice Coltrane's possession.
Even for hardcore Coltrane fans, the beauty and power of STELLAR REGIONS should prove a revelation. The session was a particularly inspiring date by the final version of the John Coltrane Quartet--featuring bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Rashied Ali and pianist Alice Coltrane. STELLAR REGIONS shows that Coltrane's restless creativity was still at play, as he scaled down and distilled elements from his "late period." Improvisations that used to last hours are now reprised in a few minutes (the angelic title tune, the jagged "Iris," the angular alternate take of "Tranesonic") with fresh melodic contrasts and bold modal shapes ("Configuration" and "Sun Star") to accommodate the thrashing excitement of the band's playing.
There are many moments of serene beauty to contemplate. Voluptuous melodies and heraldic gestures serve to mitigate the band's turbulent collective transformations, exemplified by the opening "Seraphic Light," where Trane's immense, sonorous chant evokes the ardor of a country preacher, over Garrison's bowed counterpoint. With remastered sound, Garrison's bass is present as never before (and beautifully showcased on the folkish "Jimmy's Mode"), while Alice's oceanic, free-form rhythmic cycles give the rhythm section its emotional thrust, providing a lyric contrast to Trane's visceral metamorphosis on performances such as "Tranesonic." Trane's lovely theme "Offering'--with its beguiling echoes of "A Love Supreme," an expressive tenor-drums exchange, and celestial coda--was previously released on EXPRESSION, and is included on STELLAR REGIONS as the emotional centerpiece of an unforgettable journey into the unknown. Hard to believe that this musical shaman would succumb to cancer five months later.