Personnel: John Coltrane (soprano & tenor saxophones); McCoy Tyner (piano); Jimmy Garrison (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).
Recorded live in Europe in 1963 and in Stockholm, Sweden on October 22, 1963. Includes liner notes by Benny Green and Norman Granz.
Digitally remastered by Phil De Lancie (1993, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
Personnel: John Coltrane (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); McCoy Tyner (piano); Elvin Jones (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Joe Tarantino.
Liner Note Authors: Benny Green ; Neil Tesser.
Recording information: Berlin (10/22/1963); Stockholm (10/22/1963); Berlin (11/02/1963); Stockholm (11/02/1963).
Photographers: Rolf Ambor; Riccardo Schwamenthal.
The recordings that make up Afro Blue Impressions were acquired by jazz impresario/auteur Norman Granz during the tours he produced for many jazz artists during the 1960s, though they weren't issued until 1973. Recorded at shows in Berlin and Stockholm, the John Coltrane Quartet -- with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones -- is in tremendous form here, using a familiar repertoire in order to expand upon the group's own building blocks in creating the new post-harmonic system that the saxophonist was developing. This is evident almost immediately in the first few minutes of opening number "Lonnie's Lament," where Coltrane begins reaching with his arpeggios to notes that aren't even on the horn in his frenetic solo and his duet with Jones. That said, there is enough of the quartet's own engagement with the tune's original architecture to satisfy all but the most conservative of Coltrane listeners. The brilliant razor-sharp focus on restraint and lyricism applied in "Naima" reveals Tyner utilizing numerous subtly shaded chord voicings to prod Coltrane's tender lyric exploration of the melody. Of course, the 21-minute version of "My Favorite Things" points directly at the territories the quartet would explore on the forthcoming albums Crescent and A Love Supreme and, in its most adventurous moments, somewhere beyond them. Tyner's arpeggios and ostinatos are sharp and fleet here, responding to Jones' driving snare and cymbals. Coltrane's soprano moves between blues, Dorian modes, and even Eastern scalar articulations in his solo. "Afro Blue" is a rhythm collision, where mode gives way to some of Trane's most angular soprano playing, pushing the limits of the instrument and his own dexterity to near breaking points. As the two long set-closers -- "Spiritual" and "Impressions" -- reveal, the group was not yet finished with more formal structures. They push at them, but still engage conventional ideas of harmony even as modes and meta scales dominate. Ample evidence can be found in the moaning gospel overtones of the former, which bring out the deep blues in Tyner's solo, and in Coltrane's knotty bop head, which commences the latter in advance of his manic, wildly imaginative solo. Afro Blue Impressions is the sound of one of the greatest -- albeit short-lived -- quartets in jazz history completely coming into its own in concert. ~ Thom Jurek