Saturday, April 3, 2010

John Coltrane - Blue Train (1958)

I'm going to make some startling claims and speak in hyperbole when talking about John Coltrane, so bear with me. First, this record was Coltrane's first album where he got to choose the tunes (and writing four) and also got to choose the personnel (going with a rhythm section of Philly Joe Jones on drums, Paul Chambers on bass and Kenny Drew on piano; Curtis Fuller on trombone and a 19-year old Lee Morgan on trumpet). This album is notable also because it's Coltrane's only "real" album for Blue Note Records (he'd record the bulk of his early oeuvre on Prestige, his "middle" period for Atlantic and his later years went on to Impulse!).

Now on to the startling claims; I'm going to say some things that although they might offend, they aren't intended to. First; Lee Morgan on trumpet- I think as far as his tone, expressiveness and sheer talent he's the best trumpeter, ever. Now all you Miles Davis fans can get all hissy and shit, but Miles' main and most important contributions to jazz music have been his outstanding compositions, his ear for talent and the fact that he didn't die in his forties. Morgan's virtuosity is unparalleled- I'll be posting a few of his albums very soon, rest assured.

Second startling claim; this record is the quintessential hard bop album- Coltrane had just come off of stints playing in the Miles Davis Quintet and a year with Thelonious Monk, so there's two of the main guys at the forefront of the hard bop scene. This record is the best example of the marriage between bop and the blues; a few other ones I like are Sonny Rollins' Saxophone Colossus, Cannonball Adderley's Something Else and Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers' Moanin'. But this is the best of the best.

Okay, you judge for yourself. This version is the re-issued one from 2003, re-mastered by original engineer Rudy Van Gelder.

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