Uncut - 11/01, p.1034.5 stars out of 5
- "...An introduction to his range of styles..."
Personnel includes: John Coltrane (soprano & tenor saxophones); Johnny Hartman (vocals); Eric Dolphy (bass clarinet); Duke Ellington, McCoy Tyner (piano); Aaron Bell, Jimmy Garrison, Reggie Workman (bass); Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones (drums).
Producer: Bob Thiele.
Compilation producer: Richard Seidel.
Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, New York, New York and Newport, Rhode Island between 1961 and 1964. Includes liner notes by David Wild.
Digitally remastered by Allan Tucker (Foothill Digital, New York, New York).
Personnel: John Coltrane (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Johnny Hartman (vocals); Eric Dolphy (bass clarinet); McCoy Tyner (piano); Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes (drums); Renee Rosnes, Richard Seidel (sequencer).
Liner Note Author: David Wild.
Photographer: Chuck Stewart.
This isn't the first CD that has had the title The Very Best of John Coltrane, and one can safely assume that it won't be the last. The focus of this 74-minute collection is Coltrane's Impulse output -- specifically, modal post-bop that he recorded from 1961-1964. The disc doesn't get into the blistering atonal free jazz he embraced from 1965-1967, which is just as well because even though much of that material is brilliant, it isn't for everyone -- at least not novices and casual listeners who are exploring the saxophonist's work for the first time. And for those who need a dose of introductory Coltrane, this release generally favors the more essential recordings that he provided for Impulse. That includes "Acknowledgement," "Bessie's Blues," and "Crescent," as well as legendary encounters with Duke Ellington ("In a Sentimental Mood") and singer Johnny Hartman ("Lush Life"). Because Impulse didn't have access to Coltrane's famous Atlantic recordings of "My Favorite Things" and "Naima," they chose live versions from various Impulse releases -- both of which are excellent, but not essential. This CD would have been better off with "After the Rain," "Miles' Mode," or "India," none of which are included. Also questionable is Impulse's decision to include a previously unreleased 1962 studio performance of "Impressions," which should have been saved for a collection of rarities -- this is supposed to be a best-of, after all. But all things considered, The Very Best of John Coltrane can serve as a rewarding introduction to the saxman's Impulse period. While this 2001 release is hardly the last word on Coltrane's legacy, it is one of the CDs to start out with for novices. ~ Alex Henderson