Top critical review
on 7 March 2016
This disc is a combination of live and studio performances and it is a hard album to love, as much as I am a fan of John Coltrane's music. The opening "India" is intriguing with the additional bass and the addition of Eric Dolphy's bass clarinet but it over-stay's it's welcome. This is even more the case with "Impressions" which is an up-tempo reworking of the two scale devise employed by Miles Davis on "So what." Whilst the tune enjoys something of a cultish status, there isn't really sufficient for Coltrane to get his teeth stuck in to and given that , for some reason. McCoy Tyner is given relatively little solo space through this disc, the result becomes a bit tedious. Despite this, "Up against the wall" is a brief and exciting blues and the closing "After the rain" is one of John Coltrane's most beautiful ballads. For me, this is the main reason for snapping up this record.
As I get older, I find myself appreciating the more adventurous side of Coltrane's music and it is curious how your perception of which discs are the best often contrast against the perceived wisdom. "Crescent" always seems to me to represent the apogee of the Coltrane quartet and I think that this should be the starting point rather than "A love supreme." I have no objections to the length saxophone workouts yet anyone familiar with the brilliant double CD "One up, one down" is going to find "Impressions" a bit of an anti-climax. This is an OK disc but far from being "essential" even if it does include the saving grace of "After the rain." The mixture of Dolphy and Coltrane is peculiar with both musicians offering alternative approaches to the avant-garde, the former like a melted version of Charlie Parker and the latter totally attuned to a spiritual, modal approach. This does add to the interest yet Tyner's reduced role on this record is a disappointment for those like me who find him one of the hardest swinging of all jazz pianists.