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Customer reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

on 9 July 2010
Just about everything John Coltrane played and recorded was fabulous, and this is no exception to that rule.
However, after many years of excellent recordings, in late '64 something happened that lifted Coltrane in to a league, a space, a universe of his own, starting with what many consider to be his masterpiece, 'A Love Supreme'. It was followed by what is undoubtedly the most incredible musical journey ever taken by man: Within the space of a year he recorded the albums 'The John Coltrane Quartet Plays' (I guess with so many albums, they couldn't think of a better title), 'Transition', 'Kulu Se Mama', 'Ascension', 'Meditations', 'Sun Ship', 'OM' and 'Selflessness', a group of albums that changed music forever (the jazz-world still is chewing on that albatross around its neck - and has not been able to surpass it - but what a beautiful albatross it is!).

At the time of recording KSM, Trane was breaking out of the quartet format, adding new elements to his group, that would allow him more freedom. The release has three tracks: 'Vigil' is a duo with Elvin Jones (dr), a beautifully dynamic conversation piece that sometimes sounds like a battle (with both parties on the same side, mind you - Coltrane's music is above all else about peace), followed by one of the later Coltrane's most lyrical pieces, 'Welcome' (Carlos Santana would play a beautiful version of this on his homonymous '73 album - one of his best..).
The title track is the maverick here. It features, together with THE quartet, the first appearance of Phroah(sic) Sanders (with whom he would play for the rest - two years - of his all-too-short life), Donald Garrett on base clarinet, Frank Buttler on extra drums and Juno Lewis on percussion and vocals. It's kind of a group-improvisational voyage through the history of afro-american music, unbelievably strong and deep!

If you think later Coltrane is too 'far out' for you, try this - you'll like it, and it might just whet your appetite for more music from this incredible year.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 August 2015
Recorded in 1965, we have Coltrane and band (including Pharoh Sanders) in some of their most intense, creative and exploratory music making. There are only three tracks and the timing of the CD comes in at under 35 minutes, but still this album has real substance and value. For those listeners who prefer his gentler ballad albums this set will perhaps prove to be too much of a jolt into the unknown. Others may (like myself) get caught up in the exotic percussion, primal sax wailing and mesmerising African drum rhythms. At first listen, it might all sound a little too acerbic, dense and lacking in structure. Listen more and hear how the band create a rich, textured, wild sound picture that is packed with excitement, incident and colour.

This work at some point must have had some influence over Miles Davis and his musings on such albums as ‘Bitches Brew’ and ‘Big Fun’. My favourite track has to be the beautiful ‘Welcome’, a lovely warm sax melody topping McCoy Tyner’s gently lyrical piano.

Not the first album for someone new to Coltrane, but certainly one for confirmed fan.
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on 27 May 2012
Like other reviewers before me I was a bit uneasy with the vocals in the title track, however on repeated listens and with my recent immersion in all things impulse, I have come to view this as part of the era and I do now listen to Kulu Sé Mama and appreciate it. For those who will find that jarring most of the other tracks are available on Selflessness Featuring My Favorite Thing,Transition and Living Space /Imp. Of these albums Transition works the best, sounding like a real album; not just a collection of track. Selflessness is pretty good too, with a rather good cover too. The only track other than the title track that you won;t easily get elsewhere is the alternate take of Dusk Dawn.

John Coltrane is one of my all time favourites but clearly some of his music takes slightly longer to get into than other; you ned to grow the ears to hear Selflessness for example but if you put in the listening time you may find you are uploading Ascension onto your iPod to listen to on the journey home from work. Some days you really do need that level of spiritual renewal!
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on 6 October 2014
I wouldn’t recommend anyone buying this reissue.

In 2000 this album was released on CD with 3 bonus tracks, making a total of 6 tracks. If you read reviews you’ll see that this extra music is extremely good.

Now the album is released on CD again but without those bonus tracks. Just the original 3 tracks, with a playing time of not much over 30 minutes.

Where have the other tracks gone?

It’s quite amusing that this CD has a label on it saying ‘Originals’, implying that somehow you’re purchasing a good thing, when in fact you’re purchasing a rip-off!
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on 5 November 2011
Coltrane's own playing is magnificent as always of course. No matter how fast or 'out' he plays the sound, the tone is always intact; he really SINGS (as opposed to Pharoah Sanders whose squawks and barks strike me as all effects but no real substance.) As for the vocal kind of singing, that cornball effort here is what keeps me largely from giving the album 5 stars.
The rest of the band is wonderful, especially Elvin Jones. In fact the duo with Coltrane is my favourite part of the album, like a forerunner of "Interstellar space" with the music stripped down to its bare minimum for maximum intensity, just the breath and the heartbeat.
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