JOHN COLTRANE — Transition

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JOHN COLTRANE - Transition cover
4.03 | 12 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1970


A1 Transition 15:29
A2 Dear Lord 5:34
Suite (21:18)
B-I Prayer And Meditation: Day
B-II Peace And After
B-III Prayer And Meditation: Evening
B-IV Affirmation
B-V Prayer And Meditation: 4 A.M.

CD reissue track list:
1 Transition 15:28
2 Welcome 5:21
Suite (21:19)
3a Prayer And Meditation: Day
3b Peace And After
3c Prayer And Meditation: Evening
3d Affirmation
3e Prayer And Meditation: 4 A.M.
4 Vigil 9:41


John Coltrane: saxophone
McCoy Tyner: piano
Jimmy Garrison: double bass
Elvin Jones: drums

About this release

Impulse! ‎– AS-9195 (US)

Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on May 26 and June 10, 1965

Some CD reissues have different track list:

"Dear Lord", which appeared on the original LP of "Transition", has been issued on CD on "Dear Old Stockholm" with the rest of the session from which that tune came. "Welcome" and "Vigil", which originally appeared on the LP "Kulu Se Mama" have been added to this CD version of "Transition".

Thanks to Abraxas, snobb for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

1965 saw the release of what can be considered John Coltrane’s magnum opus, A Love Supreme that is, reaching his peak both as a spiritual expressionist and a virtuoso and original/innovative jazz musician. Another significant album that year was Ascension, although I’m not fond of it, it's nonetheless an important album for both Coltrane and the free jazz genre. Besides a pair of other albums from that year, it was actually after Coltrane's death that we, fans, discovered that '65 was such a crucial and productive year for John. Impulse! started releasing albums from that year like newspapers, Sun Ship, First Meditations, Gleanings, Living Space, and there was Transition.

The latter is aptly titled, since it's not much different from A Love Supreme and contemporary works, where the freeness wasn't taking control of Trane's entire music, actually there's this majestic balance of spiritual climaxes and more down-to-earth post bop with extreme talent.

Like I usually say, Pharaoh Sanders and Alice Coltrane achieved what John, their predecessor, never did in an entire album, that is to play pure spiritual jazz ("hippie jazz") where peace and love are main themes, which is what John's musical life seems to always have desired but never quite did it. But it's in this case, Transition, where we find the composition 'Welcome', a rather short tune (in comparison with the rest), that highlights peacefulness rather than virtuosity or chaos. Both Tyner's sprawling piano and Trane's brief sax appearances are just sublime. It’s not of lesser interest to know that such an “unknown” tune by Trane was later covered by Santana.

That is already of big interest for Coltrane fans, but what might be of bigger interest is the 'Suite' of 21 minutes that dares to challenge A Love Supreme's awesomeness. The playing and interaction between members is in great shape like it has always been, and the different parts connect well with each other, indeed making one of John's most overlooked gems. As you should expect, you can hear a wide range of moods, from the soulful, the bluesy, the more chaotic and the rampant, with room for each member to show their unique style and their essential contributions to Coltrane’s music.

The last track, 'Vigil', is also very interesting, being a duo of Jones and Trane. 'Vigil' isn't as freaky and dissonant as one would expect, it's actually very digestible compared to the rageous and offensive duels that are in Interstellar Space which has Rashied Ali instead of Elvin Jones.

Lastly, there's the title track which is a typical 61-64 Trane composition, with the classic McCoy chords and the brilliant sax soloing.

Transition is undoubtedly a must-have for fans, not only it provides understanding of Coltrane's mind evolution, it's damn great in its entirety with top-notch material.

Members reviews

Sean Trane
Another one of these fantastic posthumous release (of 72, I believe), Transition is definitely a long-lost sister to the famed Love Supreme album as it was recorded in the spring of 65 (which not that close to ALS, I’ll agree), but still featuring the excellent first quartet with Tyner. Holding just three tracks, Transition consist mainly of the excellent title track and the sidelong 5-movements suite, entitled just that: Suite.

Just as your stylus hits the black wax, you’ll immediately get the “classic Trane” fever, where McCoy, Elvin and Jimmy lay down the red carpet for the soaring John, at the top of his form, soaring like an eagle over the grandiose landscape depicted by Tyner’s piano tight chords. This 15-mins+ extravaganza ends in an awesome fashion over some thrilling Tyner chords, ever so reminiscent of the mythic album it evokes transitioning from. Stuck between the two monster tracks mentioned above, the shorter (everything being relative) Dear Lord track is often overlooked, partly because it’s stylistically much older than its siblings, but it does kind of reflect Trane’s more spiritual quest, but whatever it lacks the energy, it makes up in sensitivity, but it is kind of out of context, and in contradiction with the album’s title.

On the flipside, the superlative Suite kinds of dwarfs the posthumous release, but be ready to find a much more advanced state of mind, even if the quartet starts off an ALS mood, it doesn’t last long before they challenge the boundaries of your sanity, as Trane definitely wanders quite far away from the dissonance frontier. Pushed ever so further down the line by Tyner’s piano, Trane just glides smoothly in the troposphere, toying away with Apollo and Soyuz objects of the times, playing with their balls, and then hoofing them in the nuts. Unfortunately, the overlong Garrison solo breaks the momentum (Elvin’s is much more concise), but once over with, Trane comes back to overwhelm your flayed-alive senses to cap off the album in an ALS–Meditations manner. Trane’s general crescendo and ascension to total intensity and suspense is simply unstoppable and implacable. Simply awesome. Chills down my spine as Tyner’s closing chords ring away in my mind for more than a few minutes after the diamond lifted away from the wax.

I simply can’t speak highly enough of such a flawed but fantastic posthumous release, but this is exactly the typical artefact and perfect trial-exhibit A to show just how great Trane was way above the pack, with only Mingus to accompany him to a certain altitude.

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