Rolling Stone - 5/18/95, pp.87-884.5 Stars
- Excellent - "...Leading his incendiary '60s quartet, Coltrane wails with an inexhaustible, sometimes truly nightmarish passion....Passages of stark modal beauty detonate into ensemble blasts of dizzying tumult..."
Q - 3/95, p.1164 Stars
- Excellent - "...this is a double set of epic improvisations recorded in a small Seattle club in late 1965....the results are nothing less than awesome..."
Down Beat - 5/95, p.414 Stars
- Very Good - "...This is an ensemble that starts at the brink, then rushes over it....Trane follows volcanic climax with gorgeous thematic reprise, summoning the sonic Eden that inspired a generation to make love to his late-period music..."
Personnel: John Coltrane (soprano & tenor saxophones); Pharoah Sanders (tenor saxophone); Raphael Donald Garrett (bass clarinet, bass); McCoy Tyner (piano); Jimmy Garrison (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).
Producer: John Coltrane.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded live at The Penthouse, Seattle, Washington on September 30, 1965. Includes liner notes by David Wild.
Personnel: John Coltrane (saxophone, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Donald Rafael Garrett (bass clarinet); McCoy Tyner (piano); Elvin Jones (drums).
Recording information: The Penthouse, Seattle, WA (09/30/1965).
Photographer: Chuck Stewart.
By the fall of 1965, when LIVE IN SEATTLE was recorded, John Coltrane was in the middle of a highly experimental period, searching for new means of expression, having seemingly exhausted his bebop and post-modern resources. Such niceties as tune, time and tempo were optional features on these free-form search parties. The freedom first hinted at that summer (TRANSITION and SUN SHIP) was now the primary focus of the music.
The music had become a reflection of John Coltrane's spiritual quest, as well as his study of non-western religions and the ritualistic music that often accompanied these solemn rites. The effect of adding young firebrands Donald Garrett and Pharaoh Sanders to his ensemble was catalytic. The enthusiasm of tenor maverick Sanders is contagious. On the sonic bookends "Cosmos" and "Evolution," Sanders' unique command of multiphonics, harmonics and blow-torched overtones gives the music a real vocal impetus. As if Trane needed one. On free interpretations of classics such as "Out Of This World" and "Afro-Blue," Trane uses Sanders as his stunt double, allowing him to explore the farthest extremities of sound, by which time the innate structure and form of his own aural onslaughts sound positively lyrical in comparison.
The Tyner-Garrison-Jones rhythm team was, at any moment's notice, capable of concocting the swinging illusion of meter and form (and even groove) out of this sonic maelstrom--usually one of Tyner's magnificent rhythmic/harmonic inventions. Listen to the head of "Afro-Blue" for an example of how hard the Coltrane rhythm team could swing. And Jimmy Garrison's virtuoso showpiece "Tapestry In Sound" is indicative of the brakthroughs he achieved every night during Coltrane's last two years. But Trane wanted more sonic density to play off of, and those tunes with Garrett doubling on bass are particularly powerful--check out the dueling basses on "Afro-Blue." As for Coltrane himself, whether he's leaving earth's orbit on "Cosmos" or turning "Body And Soul" into a free-form anthem, the searching, triumphant quality of his saxophone playing is emotionally overwhelming. So happy was Trane with these dates that the next day he recorded the visionary OM.