This lovely album of ballads has generated many different explanations of how it came about; however, I think it's enough just to be glad it did. For those for whom Coltrane's sustained attack, note-bending, or simply sheer blowing power is too much, you'll find a sanctuary here. The discipline of the ballad form, allied to a marvellously sympathetic quartet (Tyner on piano; Garrison on bass; Jones on drums) ensure that his blowing is restrained, yet far from inhibited.
The intuitive interplay between the group members seems perfectly normal, until you realise that, with the exception of the enchanting 'It's Easy to Remember', they had never played these pieces prior to recording. Coltrane's horn caresses the notes, but can also inject a little bite from time to time, while Tyner's keyboard work brings colour and warmth to each number. Garrison and Jones rhythm section propel each piece with effortless poise. Sound quality is very good, while the attractive gatefold case has liner notes and timings. This album comes highly recommended in both Gramophone and Penguin Jazz Guides, should you need any further persuasion.
My only disappointment is the short running time of 32 minutes, so you could choose the 2cd version with out-takes bulking things up. However, my advice would be to resist having the spell this album casts diluted in any way; the riches here far outweigh reservations over length. This album, coupled with the warmly lyrical, melodic 3cd set 'Slowtrane' Slowtrane
demonstrates a warmer more emotional, and much more accessible Coltrane than some of his other work. Well worth exploring.