I passed on the original LP, but this reissue with twenty additional minutes of music by, on the one hand, the quintessential jazz blues player and, on the other, the most influential jazz innovator of the past half century, led me to reconsider my decision of 40 years ago (I was poorer then, too).
Listening to the album again, I'm finding that the source of my reservations at the time are now a source of pleasure. Not only are the primary players conscious of their different musical styles, but each brings a "second" for support: Coltrane has Paul Chambers, his colleague from the Miles Davis Group, and Jackson has Connie Kay, his associate from the the Modern Jazz Quartet. The result is a rhythm section that is never quite in synch. Paul lays down as powerful, unflappable a bass line as I've ever heard from him while Connie Kay reminds me of a trailer or dinghy faithfully in tow. Coltrane leans forward on the time, keeping up with his man, while Bags waits on the beat, as though listening to his own accomplice.
Is there a "winner"? The advantage is definitely Coltrane-Chambers. On the other hand, Hank Jones is so effective in bridging the gap, playing in the "middle" of the beat, that the whole thing works. In fact, the undeniable tension in the rhythm along with the players figuring out ways to deal with it create a whole new layer of musical interest.
I'm really inclined to four and a half stars, but the principals, not to mention the performance of the roadbuilder, Paul Chambers, forbid it.