Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); Cecil Payne, Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone); Mal Waldron (piano); Doug Watkins (bass); Art Taylor (drums).
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey on April 20, 1957. Originally released on Prestige (7280). Includes original release liner notes by David A. Himmelstein.
Digitally remastered by Phil De Lancie (Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); Pepper Adams, Cecil Payne (baritone saxophone); Mal Waldron (piano); Doug Watkins (upright bass); Art Taylor (drums).
Though Coltrane was already a veteran of two years with the Miles Davis Quintet and several all-star saxophone sessions for Prestige, it was his 1957 date DAKAR that found the tenor saxophonist beginning to stretch out in earnest as a leader. While his boppish Blue Note solo date BLUE TRAIN showed Trane extending on his mainstream mastery, DAKAR found this adventurous musician exploring some of the exotic sounds and inspirations which would mark his future growth.
Coltrane's full-bodied, percussive use of dual baritone saxophones, with a tenor saxophone filling out the bottom of the chord, reflects his interest in one of composer Sun Ra's favorite arranging devices. The African-inflected title tune, with its provocative minor vamp and swinging release, shows Coltrane very much under the spell of the Sun Ra Arkestra's greatest soloist, tenor man John Gilmore. The circuitous harmonies of producer Teddy Charles' "Route 4" also suggest Sun Ra's particular brand of tension and release, and inspire jagged jump choruses from pianist Mal Waldron and Coltrane.
Waldron's "Velvet Scene" inspires one of Coltrane's most poignant ballad performances, proving that for all his technical complexity, the tenor saxophonist could always warm up the house with a simple expressive melody. Elsewhere, a skanky "Cat Walk" and a steaming "Witches Pit" illustrate Coltrane's commanding blues vocabulary at varied tempos. On "Mary's Blues," Coltrane's preaching lines and searing upper register cries make for a lively tonal contrast, interspersed as they are between Cecil Payne's garrulous testimonies and Pepper Adams' dark levitations.