Personnel: John Coltrane (saxophone, percussion); Alice Coltrane (piano); Pharoah Sanders (bass clarinet, saxophone, percussion); Rashied Ali (drums).
Liner Note Author: Alice Coltrane.
Recording information: Koseinenkin Hall, Tokyo, Japan (07/22/1966).
Illustrator: Honeya Barth.
This single-disc Concert in Japan by John Coltrane's 1966 quintet is a reissue of the original double LP that was released as IMR 9036C in 1973. Its three selections include two long instrumental pieces and a spoken introduction of the musicians in Japanese. These performances are compiled from two Tokyo dates. This set is not to be confused with the four-disc document that includes both Tokyo concerts in their entirety. The band here performs a 25-minute "Peace on Earth," a ballad that Coltrane wrote especially for the tour, to express his empathy and sympathy for the nuclear destruction Japan experienced during WWII. The tune moves outside, but stays well within the realm of spiritual boundary-pushing that the band was easily capable of. Alice Coltrane's piano (she is introduced as "Alice McLeod" by the announcer at the beginning of the recording) is utterly lovely and keeps both Coltrane's and Pharoah Sanders' (who plays an alto on this tune) solos in check. Drummer Rashied Ali and bassist Jimmy Garrison show an almost symbiotic interplay. The longer piece is a medley of "Meditations" and "Leo," and it begins as intensely and fiercely as it does on the album of the same name. Lasting nearly 45 minutes, the piece is a free-for-all with both horn players shoving one another to the limits of improvisation with their chosen instruments, and on percussion. Alice's piano phrasings are less percussive that McCoy Tyner's were, but they are equally far-reaching in timbre, color, and texture. She, Ali, and Garrison manage to just barely tether this group to the earth. The remastering job comes directly from analog tapes, so the sound is warm, rich, and full. No Coltrane fan -- who doesn't possess the box anyway -- should be without this fine recording. ~ Thom Jurek