As the detail regarding the music contained in this joyous set is more than adequately covered in the existing reviews, I wanted to instead say something about this new pressing.
With the significant price-drop comes a corresponding reduction in the packaging - now housed in a light but sturdy clamshell box, the discs themselves are now found within simple printed card sleeves rather than digipaks. These are of the same type Rhino/Atlantic use in their five disc "Original Album Series" releases - the card used is thin and only just on the right side of flimsy. The "tape" box previously used for the outtakes disc has not been included here. The discs appear to be a straight repressings of the original set with identical print work and with the copyright date of 1995 remaining throughout. There are a few printing errors; page 69 of the booklet appears twice (replacing page 68 which is irritating as it is 68 that carries the tracklisting for most of Disc 7 and this is the only tracklisting not given on the individual disc sleeve!) and the sleeve for Disc 6 numbers the tracks "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8". Not significant but a little careless.
The reduction in price is massive but it is unclear if this is to do with the recordings now being out of copyright in Europe - perfectly legal but unsanctioned editions of these albums (the outtakes disc aside) are in wide circulation. As such, this set has two advantages and one disadvantage. It is, of course, sourced from the original master tapes (the sound is superb throughout) and it is totally comprehensive; every extant and relevant recording in one box. The disadvantage is that the integrity of the original album tracklistings has not been honoured. This means an alternate take with often be heard immediately alongside the originally issued rendition, a move which disrupts the set as a listening experience. The original market for this box was really people who already owned all or most of the original releases and the creation of a chronology allows for a careful study of Coltrane's development during this period. But at this price point, a whole new audience comes in and, with the market beginning to flood, this would have been an ideal time to reposition this set and restore the running orders of the individual albums. Of course, with Amazon, you get a free Autorip so doing this oneself in the digital realm is not a chore. Your mileage may vary and all that...
So, that's the build and the chassis, what's under the bonnet is, of course, an absolute delight. The span from Coltrane's debut as a band leader and his death was a cruelly brief 10 years and here we have the music in which he truly finds his sound, the sound he worked so incredibly hard and practiced so long to establish. He audibly grows, especially as a composer throught this set. As someone who came in to Coltrane through his later, harsher, experimental works, some of this music feels like the sun coming out - there seems to be so much space, so much breathe.
You probably know already if you want/need this but here you have a key stage in Coltrane's career assembled comprehensively, in impeccible sound quality and now very keenly priced.
on 9 July 2010
This box includes (at least that's what they claim) ALL the recordings Trane did for Atlantic Records, between 1959 and 1961.
Basically, Coltrane's career can be split musically in to four main parts, that conveniently follow the labels that he worked with, respectively: Prestige, Columbia, Atlantic and Impulse Records.
The Atlantic years, after the years with Miles Davis, were a time of expanding the musical horizons, when the spaceship he had been putting together with Monk and Miles was ready for take-off and blasted in to orbit - an orbit he would subsequently leave for deep space during the astonishing Impulse years that followed.
The harbingers of that final space-flight are here, in these recordings: 'Giant Steps', 'Olé' and 'My Favorite Things' expanded the envelope in ways that made it impossible to put the lid back on the box - and then the Impulse years, starting with 'A Love Supreme', would do away with the box entirely.
And ever since then, all of Jazz's men couldn't put the box together again - not even Miles Davis, whose valiant efforts (including the fabulous 'Bitches Brew') were no match for the heights and depths that Trane had achieved by the end of his life.
Coltrane changed music forever. His work is a journey without comparison: Listen carefully to this music, and then take the final steps with 'A Love Supreme', 'Kulu Se Mama', 'Ascension', 'Meditation', 'Om', 'Selflessness' and 'Interstellar Space': Staying right here on planet earth with his saxophones, he went further than NASA will ever even dare to dream of!
The packaging is outstanding, with plenty of information and photos, and the sound is excellent.
Five stars are not enough for this music! And the price is right, too!
OK, so I'm a little late with this review, but I'm listening to CD5 at the moment and somehow it seems appropriate, but I don't want to repeat the previous review. Heavyweight indeed in his musical stature, heavyweight is the box and the price! (I was lucky enough to receive it as a present last year)
So what do you get - a massive amount of music including the albums:
My Favorite Things
Coltrane Plays The Blues
The Coltrane Legacy
The above takes care of the basic 6 albums which are not in album sequence, but session sequence alternative takes thrown in of many tracks. Then there's disc 7 housed in a a separate box within the slipcase (a Scotch reel to reel imitation) that hold even more outtakes, incomplete recordings and false starts.
The music throughout is superb and this bulky slipcase makes a great partner for The Classic Quartet-Complete Impulse! Studio Recordings. Packaging is very good, the main 6 CDs being digipaks housed in a slipcase with a 74 page CD size hard back book. CD7 is housed as previously described and the two boxes then slide into a heavy cardboard box.
on 13 December 2013
Here's what here, for anyone for whom the title isn't enough, although in arbitrary order: the LPs GIANT STEPS, COLTRANE JAZZ, MY FAVORITE THINGS, BAGS & TRANE, OLE COLTRANE, COLTRANE PLAYS THE BLUES, COLTRANE'S SOUND, THE AVANT-GARDE, all of which were released roughly around the time of recording, and THE COLTRANE LEGACY and ALTERNATE TAKES, both of which were released later if their cover designs are anything to go by.
Now, there are of course those who would have you believe that John Coltrane is responsible for everything bad that's happened in jazz since around 1955, just as there are those of the opinion that Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie went in for similar wilful destruction in the late 1940s, but this set makes mockery of the former's reasoning.
Over the course of seven discs we get the chance to hear not so much a man laying out a manifesto as a man putting his personal stamp on music he'd already served a lengthy apprenticeship in. The fact that it was all recorded between January of 1959 and May of 1961 doesn't imply a hothouse-rate of development, but what it means in reality is a musician of extraordinary invention applying himself to his chosen form in a way which arguably hadn't previously been so. It also shows a lot of today's journeypersons up as total slackers, but that's by the by.
So, while the solos both Coltrane and vibes man Milt Jackson take on "Blues Legacy" (on BAGS & TRANE) are not quite worth the price alone, they're still evidence of a couple of different musical conceptions coming together, especially in the way in which Jackson (probably unconsciously) mimics Coltrane's coruscating phrasing at one point.
The same isn't true of Coltrane's meeting with Don Cherry (on THE AVANT-GARDE), and I hope readers can forgive the pedant in me when I say I think Cherry's trumpet credit is wrong (I happen to think it's the cornet, but enough already) Cherry unsurprisingly sounds more at home in bass player Charlie Haden's company than Coltrane, although the meeting of different minds is never less than intriguing.
In October of 1960 Atlantic perhaps made the kind of attempt at marketing Coltrane that the Impulse label did later in his career with a ballads album. In this case it produced COLTRANE PLAYS THE BLUES, which indeed he does, although not in any way that might be described as earthy. On a far more profound note three quarters of the `classic' Coltrane quartet are in place, and this is highlighted by the alternate take of "Blues for Elvin" (not on the ALTERNATE TAKES album, although there is another alternate take of it on there) where the extraordinary understanding between Coltrane and drummer Elvin Jones is already in place.
But for the fact that I've already gone on enough I could go on....at length......but then the time you spend reading the results would be better employed listening to this extraordinary body of music.....so do the necessary.......now......and don't waste your energy trying to keep your jaw from dropping while you listen.
on 13 March 2014
This box was originally produced by Rhino in 1995, including the 8 albums Coltrane recorded, whilst he was signed to Atlantic, as well as all of the alternate takes of the numbers contained therein.
On it's release, it was showered with well-deserved and unanimous critical praise, selling out rapidly, leading to a rapid escalation in the price of used copies, so this reissue is not only timely, but represents exceptional value for money at around £20.
Coltrane's period at Atlantic was undoubtedly one of the most fruitful periods in his career and his restless quest to create inspiring new music and reinterpret old jazz standards, allied with the inventiveness and emotion he expresses in his playing here are testimony to his stature as one of the all-time greats.
It's quite simple really, if you don't have this in your collection, you should not consider yourself a jazz fan.
on 22 August 2014
Not much to say about this set. Seven CD's full of some of the finest jazz ever set to disc. Coltrane would move onwards and upwards from here, but some of these recordings world never be beaten for sheer joy and listening pleasure. These albums should be in every jazz-lover's collection, either as the box set or as individual CD's. Self recommending.
on 19 October 2013
one of the true giants of Jazz this collection is indispensable and now that the collection is available at a bargain price there is no better time to explore the genius that is Coltrane.
on 25 April 2014
Essential for the "compleatist's". A nice touch with this boxed set is disc 7, which is crammed with unissued alternate takes, giving those who appreciate it, a real feel for the studio atmosphere and the evolution to the final-release take.
on 19 December 2014
John Coltrane at his very best i think. What a pleasure to listen the full box in one sitting and i have done so a few times.
on 11 September 2014
The quality of the recordings is superb and the book is very good.