Q - 9/93, p.973 Stars
- Good - "...[TRANSITION] brings the graceful, prayer-like 'Welcome' and 'Vigil' [from the KULE SU MAMA sessions]..."
Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); McCoy Tyner (piano); Jimmy Garrison (acoustic bass); Elvin Jones (drums).
Producers: Bob Thiele, John Coltrane.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on June 10 & 16, 1965. Includes original release liner notes and the liner notes of KULU SE MAMA, both by Nat Hentoff.
Digitally remastered by Robert Stoughton (MCA Music Media Studios).
Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); McCoy Tyner (piano); Elvin Jones (drums); Ed Michel, Alice Coltrane (programming).
Liner Note Author: Nat Hentoff.
Recording information: Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ (05/26/1965); Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ (06/10/1965).
Photographer: Chuck Stewart.
This posthumous release, recorded in June of 1965, is a perfect point upon which to delineate the TRANSITION between Coltrane quartet's golden age, and the book of revelations that followed. TRANSITION finds them on the stylistic fault line between the spiritual outreach of A LOVE SUPREME and the turbulent explorations of SUN SHIP. These performances are plenty intense, yet traditional matters of tune, tempo, tonality and time are still apparent, whereas two months later (SUN SHIP) the band was immersed in the spirit of exploration.
Trane's chanting theme to the title tune echoes elements of A LOVE SUPREME, while his development of this and other motifs foreshadows the deep contrasts between upper and lower registers he'd exploit so convincingly on MEDITATIONS. As always, Tyner holds the rumbling edifice together with dense block chords that reflect Trane's stunning flights, while his two-handed accents imply all manner of polyrhythmic revelations to Garrison and Jones. On the angelic miniature that follows ("Welcome"), Tyner resembles a chorale of church pianists, weaving harp-like clouds around Trane's lyric lightning.
On "Prayer And Meditation" (the opening of a five-part suite which takes up almost half of TRANSITION), Tyner conjures up a set of foreboding, broken chords worthy of Cecil Taylor--breaking up the collective time into shards of sound, deconstructing a basic swing pulse into parallel star systems of exploding nebulae. On "Peace And After" Trane attempts to translate these enigmatic revelations into more accustomed melodic designs, as Tyner, Garrison and Jones morph freely through variations on a 3/4 rhythm. Bassist Garrison forges a lyrical transition with an ascendant solo feature which exploits strumming guitar-like possibilities, sitarish drones and traditional low-end testimonies. After Trane enunciates the preaching theme to "Affirmation," Tyner jumps right on the spirit train with lively interplay between the moans and amens of his left hand and the fleet, jagged sermons of his right, setting the stage for Trane's dramatic re-entrance and thunderous drum interlude.