on 20 November 2001
This is a very interesting album. Starting with Cherryco, the only original piece in this album, it gives the essence of developing free or, in the words of the title, Avant Garde jazz. The rest of the album consists of three songs by Ornette Coleman and one by Monk. The interpretation is fantastic and Coltrane's magic touch is evident. Cherry's solos are inspiring, more daring in a sense than those of Coltrane. With Charlie Haden on Bass and Ed Blackwell on drums this album is sheer pleasure. I was particularly impressed with Blackwell's cymbal and high hat work with an amazing livelihood blown in by the snare . For one interested mainly in free jazz however, this is the genre in its very early stages. Keep it in mind when you listen.
on 6 July 2009
The New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratcliff once called this record "unspectacular" and to some degree he is correct when compared to other Coltrane records. However 'The Avant-Garde' is far more important in terms of Coltrane's career than the necessity of being spectacular.
For the first time on this record Coltrane is recorded playing the soprano sax, it also sees Coltrane playing with Ornette Coleman's group - Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell - musicians who did not usually record together, who both give great performances; there are some truly blistering drum solos from Blackwell throughout...
Overall Don Cherry's trumpet is more expansive, more expressive, than Coltrane who at times seems hesitant and unsure of himself, and for this reason any fan of Don Cherry should give this album a thorough listening to. That being said, it is still interesting to hear Coltrane playing three Coleman tunes with Coleman's band even if Coltrane's playing sounds at times more guarded than avant-garde.
The most important aspect of this record for Coltrane enthusiasts is that `The Avant-Garde' captures `Trane in transition, in the ascendant, after the release of `Giant Steps' in 1959 towards the climacteric that was `Live at the Village Vanguard' in 1961 with his classic quartet, and this alone, is reason for purchase.