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Coltrane Plays The Blues (Lp+cd) [VINYL]

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Vinyl (19 Mar. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Doxy Records
  • ASIN: B004XOBUOO
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 646,955 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD
This session was hastily put together, recorded on the same day as another album, but in retrospect it turned out to be a visionary idea. How would one of the leading experimenters of the time tackle the very roots of the music, its most fundamental form? After listening to Coltrane Plays the Blues, no one could credibly accuse the form of being monotonous, infertile or banal.
In a tribute to Sidney Bechet, "Blues to Bechet", Coltrane plays the soprano saxophone alone with bass and drums, fusing blues and Middle Eastern idioms together in passionate, incantatory figures that dance like eddies in a mountain stream. "Mr. Syms" also features Coltrane on soprano, but here he merely states the theme, opening up the central solo space to McCoy Tyner, who delivers an exquisite blues, swinging with all the majesty of a great and profound tradition. In a time when both jazz and Coltrane himself were undergoing a period of turbulent self-analysis, this record serves as a refreshing reminder of the illuminating simplicity of the central architecture of jazz: the blues.
Ironically, but perhaps fittingly, the critic Ralph J. Gleason wrote in the original liner notes to Coltrane's Sound that "this music is an extraordinary example of the complex beauty of this most complex age".
That Coltrane was able to record two albums in the same day that masterfully captured the polar opposites of simplicity and complexity without contradiction is testament to his genius.
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Format: Audio CD
For a single group of performers recording an album-length blues performance this is not your standard collection: there is no singer and indeed each number is quite distinct from the last. Quartet leader Coltrane alternates on tenor and soprano, he also cuts McCoy Tyner out on a couple of tracks (..to Bechet and ...to You) to provide a trio texture. These are not the only measures employed to extract variety from the standard blues form. A slow blues in E flat opens the album gently; more interesting is the pianoless Blues to Bechet, fittingly using soprano. Switching back to tenor, Coltrane produces harmonic effects in Blues To You which reflect the time of exploration he spent with Monk. This is pretty standard 'Trane, with the characteristic use of upper harmonics - not always successful! Bassist Steve Davis walks steadily throughout, but drummer Elvin Jones adds rhythmic counterpoint to the saxophonist's melodic exploration. Mr Day is a tidy little composition, arranged for syncopated bass and a rhythmic ostinato in the piano. Harmonically the piece has a quasi-modal feel, Tyner employing 11ths and 13ths throughout. Perhaps the improvised portion is over-lengthy for some tastes. Mr Syms again involves some more attention to composition and arrangement and Tyner is here giving the chance to do his funky stuff: a class act. Soprano arpeggios give an exotic flavour to usher in the reprise. Mr Knight is a fizzing 12-bar essay which benefits from a gradually broadening introduction. This album rates four stars because of the quality of the instrumental performances, and because of the recorded sound. It is also a genuine collection, not some anthology cooked up by a label.Read more ›
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Format: Vinyl
I bought this LP in my last year of university to play on my friend's record player, we'd come from a night out and sit and listen to it. It's mesmerising. Truly beautiful. I've listened to quite a bit of Coltrane in my time and it's by far one of my favourite records. It's greatly helped by having a CD copy, for all your digital needs, however, I've just taken to listening to it on the turntable instead.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 38 reviews
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blues elevated to the sublime 3 Jun. 2001
By Ricard Giner (cootie@cootiesjazz.com) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This session was hastily put together, recorded on the same day as another album, but in retrospect it turned out to be a visionary idea. How would one of the leading experimenters of the time tackle the very roots of the music, its most fundamental form? After listening to Coltrane Plays the Blues, no one could credibly accuse the form of being monotonous, infertile or banal.
In a tribute to Sidney Bechet, "Blues to Bechet", Coltrane plays the soprano saxophone alone with bass and drums, fusing blues and Middle Eastern idioms together in passionate, incantatory figures that dance like eddies in a mountain stream. "Mr. Syms" also features Coltrane on soprano, but here he merely states the theme, opening up the central solo space to McCoy Tyner, who delivers an exquisite blues, swinging with all the majesty of a great and profound tradition.
In a time when both jazz and Coltrane himself were undergoing a period of turbulent self-analysis, this record serves as a refreshing reminder of the illuminating simplicity of the central architecture of jazz: the blues. Ironically, but perhaps fittingly, the critic Ralph J. Gleason wrote in the original liner notes to Coltrane's Sound that "this music is an extraordinary example of the complex beauty of this most complex age".
That Coltrane was able to record two albums in the same day that masterfully captured the polar opposites of simplicity and complexity without contradiction is testament to his genius.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars October 1960... 29 Jun. 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
October 1960 was one of those prolific times during Trane's career where in a short period he was able to turn out album after album of classic music in an extremely brief span. My Favorite Things, Coltrane's Sound, and Coltrane Plays the Blues, all cornerstones of jazz's period of transition of the early 60's were recorded in one month.
This unbelievable actuality brings me to the review of perhaps my favorite out of all of the 3. In the liner notes of Plays the Blues, Joe Goldberg describes a typical club date for Trane during this time. He states that when appearing at a club, the last set of the evening typically is devoted to the blues. Today it is hard for the majority of jazz listeners to imagine or even fathom seeing Trane at the Vanguard, the Half Note, or Birdland, but by putting Plays the Blues and closing your eyes, this album may be closest we can get to imagining a smoky club in the 60's at midnight, when the real fans come out to see Trane play the blues. The album itself is separated into two somewhat-relating halves. Blues for Elvin kicks the first half with a slow blues featuring the full quartet of the time (the classic quartet, save for Steve Davis instead of Jimmy Garrison), Trane builds a lovely, soulful solo with gorgeous accompaniment from McCoy. The next two tracks feature the trio of Elvin and Steve Davis, Blues for Bechet has Trane on soprano and Blues to You, my favorite track on the album has one of the finest solos on the blues I have ever heard.
The second half is tracks evoking other feelings of the blues. Mr. Day and Mr. Knight are much more modal examples of the blues and the best writing on the album as well as McCoy's best playing. These tunes should be considered a stepping point as to the direction of his music from then on. Compare these tracks to Chris Potter's tribute "The Source" on the fantastic Gratitude. Mr. Syms is a fascinating minor blues with jaw-dropping soprano work. Artist's ranging from Billy Bang to Mark Whitfield has covered this track.
Coltrane Plays the Blues is the most underrated masterpiece of Coltrane's early 60's transition period and has yet to take its deserved place with My Favorite Things or Africa/Brass as early classic. That withstanding, those who own Coltrane Plays the Blues, may see it as a treasure that comes as close as some can get to seeing the late set back at the Half Note in 1960
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top-notch coltrane 19 May 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This album is right up there amongst Coltrane's best. All six original tunes are fantastic, and like most coltrane albums, this one has varying levels of complexity so that it provides just as much pleasure after months of listening as it does the first time. Recorded around the same time as, and in a class with "My favorite things".
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Coltrane Takes Blues Further Out On Classic 1960 Set 19 Oct. 2000
By Anthony G Pizza - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In his liner notes to "Coltrane Plays The Blues," Joe Goldberg concludes that "...one of the most restless experimenters in jazz has far from exhausted the possibilities of the music's oldest form." Indeed, this quartet (drummer Elvin Jones, pianist Mc Coy Tyner, bassist Steve Davis) pushed the music ever further with their seismic "Giant Steps" and "My Favorite Things."
Recorded 40 years ago this month (in one day-long session!), "Blues" is yet another jewel in Coltrane's Atlantic Records crown. It is a traditional, earthbound return in name only; Coltrane the composer and his quartet borrow from spiritually-charged Indian and Middle Eastern styles influencing their early work, and from then-former labelmate Ray Charles' Latin-flavored R&B jazz with Mongo Santamaria and David Newman.
With the stinging solos on "Blues To Bechet" and "Blues To You," (which Greenberg describes as "strictly contemporary Coltrane") the master brings intensity and experimentation to a form known for sparsity and grit. Tyner (who stars in the set's "Untitled Original" not in blues style), Davis and especially Jones form a blues box where Coltrane flutters (through eight minutes of "Mr. Day") or slyly waits to crash through on "Mr. Knight" (seeming to interrupt a percussive Tyner/Jones musical conversation with soft, more than tonal screeches). Coltrane would take the music progressive light years from this blues base in his last years, but would never show the concentration or innately swinging feel he does here.
"Coltrane Plays The Blues" is intensely done, classically shaped jazz that, while outstanding in its own right and essential for longtime fans, only hints at his importance to the newly initiated. Instead, new fans should reach for MCA/Impulse's Johnny Hartman LP, the melodic "Gentle Side of John Coltrane" or Atlantic/Rhino's new Coltrane best-of, which make a stronger career case for his legend and reverenced status.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The blues is a large universe 21 Jan. 2007
By G B - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
John Coltrane has a reputation as a fearless pusher at the boundaries of jazz, but he was also one of the great blues players in jazz. Hence it's not surprising that he released an entire album of blues compositions. In lesser hands, this could have turned into an exercise in monotony; but the six compositions on Coltrane Plays the Blues are wildly diverse, keeping things exciting the whole way through. He plays tenor sax on four tunes and his then-new soprano on two. McCoy Tyner sits out on a few tracks, leaving a piano-less trio of Coltrane, Steve Davis and Elvin Jones. "Blues to Elvin" is more traditional, and very "down home". "Blues to You" is the most avant-garde performance, a barebones trio performance that clearly anticipates "Chasin' the Trane" (from the 1961 Village Vanguard engagement). "Mr. Knight" has a theme similar to "India" (also from the Vanguard) though it doesn't maintain the same one-chord drone.

Overall this is a fantastic album. Any fan of Coltrane's other Atlantic albums should pick it up. This was one of three albums Coltrane recorded with his new quartet in October 1960 -- get all of them. (The other two were My Favorite Things and Coltrane's Sound.)
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