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An Album Of Exemplary Interpretations,
This review is from: My Favorite Things (Audio CD)
In a way, one could almost say that an album where John Coltrane covers, arguably, four of the most popular songs of the 20th century (albeit of varying heritages), in this case Rogers & Hammerstein's title song, Gershwin's Summertime and If Not For Me and Cole Porter's Everytime We Say Goodbye, the listener is being granted something of an easy win. However, whilst this album provides a good (more accessible) way in to Coltrane's music, being built around a series of infectious (and generally well known) melodies, there is also a lot going on in his band of MyCoy Tyner (piano), Steve Davis (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums). My Favourite Things is also a notable album since it was the first time Coltrane was recorded on soprano saxophone, a sound which marked the player's gradual move towards more non-Western influences that was to be further developed on the Africa/Brass and Olé Coltrane albums.
This album is probably at its most conventional during the sublime, and relatively concise, interpretation of Everytime We Say Goodbye (which, given that it is one of my all-time favourite songs was never going to miss the target). Coltrane's soprano playing here is in its most deliberate and melody-following mode, which simply (and strangely) serves to make it all the more emotionally devastating, and provides a perfect platform for McCoy Tyner's equally impressive solo. Of course, Coltrane's version of the title song, apart from being an amazing interpretation of what is essentially The Sound Of Music's childlike ditty, was the piece of music that brought Coltrane to more popular attention and was to feature as an integral part of his live performances. Indeed, the version included here is, at over 13 minutes duration, a relatively short version for Coltrane, who was later known to fill an entire evening's set (of over 90 minutes) with the tune (as well as including longer live versions on a number of later albums).
Virtuosity-wise, however, it is on the two Gershwin numbers that the band and, in particular, Coltrane (this time on tenor) really excel. His astonishing 'sheets of sound' modal playing on Summertime pays only loose (though always detectable) attention to the song's underlying melody, whilst both Tyner and Davis are afforded room to develop impressive solos. Similarly, But Not For Me is another great example of Coltrane's exposition and development technique around a tune's central theme, with likewise Tyner developing one of his most extended, vibrant and lyrical solos.
An essential recording in any Coltrane collection.