Album Reviews

John Coltrane “Afro Blue Impressions” (Pablo)

john coltrane afro blue

 

This double-disc set finds John Coltrane‘s quartet performing live in Europe in Autumn 1963, and it finds the four-piece band in fine form. It also finds Coltrane and company at a crossroads; big changes would be coming in his sound, his muse taking him into free-form territory, losing all inhibitions about his sound, whilst innovating and inspiring the jazz world. Like Moses, Coltrane would not enter the promised land, passing away in 1967, just as the music world was morphing into something completely new and refreshing. For these sets, Coltrane is giving his audience the sound they’re familiar with; “Naima” and “I Want To Talk About You,” two regulars in his live set, are tight and performed with ease, as bassist Jimmy Garrison, pianist McCoy Tyner, and drummer Elvin Jones being in fine form on these well-loved pieces. It doesn’t really take much to notice that Coltrane is a man chomping at the bit; the frantic yet elegant rhythm of “Lonnie’s Lament” is enhanced by Coltrane’s impressive but schizophrenic soloing; though he’s letting his muse fly, listen closer and you can hear a man restraining his impulse to simply explode. Eventually he does, as one can hear on the impressive, epic take on the Rogers and Hammerstein classic “My Favorite Things.” Though this era was a transitional one for Coltrane, one can clearly hear on Afro Blue Impressions that he was soon to launch his sound into a bold, controversial new direction.

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