Modern Jazz

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MILES DAVIS Kind of Blue Album Cover Kind of Blue
MILES DAVIS
4.93 | 91 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE A Love Supreme Album Cover A Love Supreme
JOHN COLTRANE
4.86 | 67 ratings
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CHARLES MINGUS The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Album Cover The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
CHARLES MINGUS
4.84 | 48 ratings
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MCCOY TYNER Sahara Album Cover Sahara
MCCOY TYNER
4.95 | 12 ratings
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MILES DAVIS 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis) Album Cover 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis)
MILES DAVIS
4.85 | 26 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Miles Smiles Album Cover Miles Smiles
MILES DAVIS
4.83 | 28 ratings
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ALICE COLTRANE Ptah, the El Daoud Album Cover Ptah, the El Daoud
ALICE COLTRANE
4.84 | 22 ratings
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ERIC DOLPHY 'Out to Lunch!' Album Cover 'Out to Lunch!'
ERIC DOLPHY
4.77 | 39 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Giant Steps Album Cover Giant Steps
JOHN COLTRANE
4.77 | 44 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Get Up With It Album Cover Get Up With It
MILES DAVIS
4.81 | 20 ratings
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MILES DAVIS In a Silent Way Album Cover In a Silent Way
MILES DAVIS
4.74 | 78 ratings
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SONNY ROLLINS Saxophone Colossus Album Cover Saxophone Colossus
SONNY ROLLINS
4.81 | 20 ratings
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modern jazz Music Reviews

JIMMY COBB The Original Mob

Album · 2014 · Hard Bop
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Matt
Jimmy Cobb has been drumming for 70 years at the time of this recent release, “The Original Mob” and is best remembered for his participation in the classic Miles Davis album “Kind Of Blue” as well he contributed to 6 others with Miles during that period from the late fifties to the mid sixties. Played on half a dozen John Coltrane albums around the same time, worked with Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Holiday, Wes Montgomery, Nat Adderley and his slightly more famous brother Cannonball. He states on the albums notes that it was through Cannonball Adderley that he was originally introduced to Miles but that all happened over 50 years ago. Today Jimmy at age 86 is playing his drums superbly and he has not lost any touch with age as evidenced upon hearing this new album from Smoke Sessions. If you are wondering, Smoke is a Jazz Club in New York and where the album was recorded. The club was empty at the recording time making the album closer to a studio session with great fresh results emanating from the one day.

Cobb’s Mob is the name of Jimmy’s band and throughout the last twenty years has gone through changes in its line up but with “The Original Mob” as the title implies the line up is precisely that from 20 years prior. Peter Bernstein the guitarist is credited with naming them when he and Brad Mehldau were students in one of Jimmy Cobb’s Jazz classes and it was Peter who brought in the bassist John Webber. Since this time Brad Mehldau’s Jazz career has passed orbit and one only knows where he keeps all his awards for pianist of the year after really hitting the scene when he started to release his “Art Of The Trio” albums back in the later nineties. Peter Bernstein’s career is not far behind Brad’s with Jimmy stating in the notes that he plays with a similarity to Grant Green the famous Blue Note Jazz guitarist. Peter has been leading an organ based trio primarily with Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart since to rave reviews and worked with quite a few current big names in Jazz such as Joshua Redman, organist Melvin Rhyne, Nicholas Payton, Diana Krall, Dr Lonnie Smith, Tom Harrell and even Sonny Rollins. The bassist John Webber is another having played with Johnny Griffiin, George Coleman, Eric Alexander and freelance appearances with Etta James, Horace Silver, Lou Donaldson and a list of many more which one could add to all his past collaborations.

The albums compositions are a quite a nice mix with standards, covers and original numbers from the band with all supplying one each and Jimmy providing two of his own.”Old Devil Moon” starts the album off with John Webber’s bass coming in first being quickly joined by drums and piano. Peter Bernstein’s guitar provides a wonderful solo which is followed by Brad’s turn on piano over this fairly up tempo take. Brad Mehldau is an absolute joy with his piano input and it keeps coming with the following mid tempo George Coleman composition, “Amsterdam after Dark” where Peter Bernstein provides one lovely little groove again right across the top followed by more from Brad. “Sunday In New York” has a great skip for all the band to work around, “Stranger In Paradise” with its quick time and Jimmy’s cracker of a drum solo just keeps the album motoring along quite nicely. The album’s fifth composition “Unrequited” is from Brad with Peter Bernstein’s guitar dropped and Brad plays with that beautiful touch that he has on piano with John Webber’s bass providing a wonderful counter and solo combined with Jimmy’s stick work and drumming. Great stuff. The two Jimmy Cobb compositions follow providing plenty of groove from “Composition 101”with the next, “Remembering U” being the album’s only ballad. The standard “Nobody Else But Me” is next with the Peter Bernstein composition “Minor Blues” following being quite a delight. John Webber’s composition “Lickety Split” with it’s up tempo timing and stellar contributions from Peter Bernstein’s guitar and Jimmy’s drum solo brings the album to a close.

Fabulous Jazz with plenty of good old fashioned Bop. Peter Bernstein and his guitar almost steal the show but with such other wonderful musicians present he did not quite get away with it. Highly recommended new release from a smokin’ new Jazz label, Smoke Sessions Records.

CORNELL DUPREE I'm Alright (aka Doin' Alright)

Album · 2011 · Soul Jazz
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Rokukai
Call it Blues, Jazz, or RandB, this terrific album could be the crown jewel in Cornell Dupree's solo career. Bluesy and funky, this treat seems to hit it's mark square in the bullseye - parts King Curtis, parts Booker T, parts Kenny Burrell, parts Albert Collins - Cornell Dupree is a polished vet who unearthed the rarest gem in the twilight of an outstanding career - a career spanning effort boiled down to eleven songs. I hope fans don't have to wait 13 years for another album, because Dupree could have a renaissance like Booker T, Andre Williams, Loretta Lynn, and Dr. John. I don't know who anybody in the band is but they simmer when they should simmer and boil when they should boil. Props to Dialtone records for ringing this one

BARRY ALTSCHUL Virtuosi

Album · 1976 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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snobb
Drummer Barry Altschul is one of the most respectable advanced jazz drummers ever,co-founder of Chic Corea's Circle (together with Dave Holland and Anthony Braxton), member of ARC(Altschul-Holland-Corea),long-time Anthony Braxton quartet's member,etc,etc. His career as leader was mostly unnoticed though, fortunately after Finnish TUM label released his trio's strong "3Dom" in 2013 it looks he attracted more attention.

At the very beginning of his musical career Barry played with already respectful Canadian pianist Paul Bley (as his trio members) for five years.Together with Bley,they were two permanent trio members,bassist position was filled with some different musicians as Mark Levinson,Ken Carter or Steve Swallow.Gary Peacock was one of them as well.

"Virtuosi", formally Altschul debut as leader,was released in 1976,nine years after the material has been recorded.In all but the name musicians participated is just a Paul Bley Trio of the moment.Albums contains two long compositions,one on each vinyl side,both written by Annette Peacock (what only enforces the feeling that you're listen to Paul Bley band).It's difficult to imagine why recorded material coming from 1967 Paul Bley trio's have been released after nine years stating Barry Altschul as leader (album was released on Bley's own Improvising Artists Inc.)At least one good thing here is that being in all but the name Bley album from late 60s as almost any other pianist recording from that time it contains quality music.

As one can expect nothing here reminds Circle or Arc or Anthony Braxton quartet's music - complex multilayered avant-garde jazz presented on other Altschul-participated recordings from same period. "Virtuozi" contains dreamy melancholic and tuneful if quite free characteristic Anette Peacock signature's music,similar to what one can find on other Payl Bley trio's albums. The main difference is probably that Bley's piano doesn't dominate here - very often it takes an accompaniment role for leading rhythm section. To say truth,Gary Peacock's physical acoustic bass is even more notable that Barry's drums here(as on many his other earlier recordings,Gary Peacock plays very free here).

Being a pleasant listening (and one of very early recordings predicted upcoming so-called "ECM sound"), "Virtuozi" are a bit bulky and in moments sound directionless; probably it's a reason why tapes spent even nine years in attic before they were released. Not the best album,released under Altschul name, this release still is one valuable evidence of early Bley/Peacocks' music and worth listening especially for such music fans.

NAOJI KONDO Live At The Tarupho

Live album · 1986 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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snobb
Japan is a big jazz country but for Westerners it always was (and still is) Terra incognita. Sadao Watanabe's international success during late 60s and 70s plus extremely creative Japanese free jazz scene between 1969 and 1972 (with Masahiko Satoh and Masahiko Tagashi) - that's all even experienced European or American jazz fan knows about it. Chick Corea's student Hiromi is great but only Japanese jazz well-known representative on modern international jazz scene.

To be correct,it looks even inside of Japan non-commercial jazz (count all jazz excluding j-fusion and j-pop jazz) starting from late 70s got quite nonconformist underground art's image.The only form which won higher respectful social status is mainstream (mostly hard bop)and for last some decades Japanese gigs and regular releases are one important source of income for best US straight jazz veterans.At the same time creative jazz didn't die on the Far East,it exists in form of plenty of small clubs gigs and some limited edition releases.Living its own life in stone jungles of Japanese cities',modern country's free jazz is quite different from what could be heard on Western scenes. Since one of most influential Japanese post-70s music trend was brutal avant-rock (Ruins,etc),big part of contemporary free jazz is influenced by it. Still there are more different streams,including very interesting eclectic mix of funk,etno-tunes,urban r'n'b and free improvs all in one. Main problem for those interested in more modern Japanese jazz is there isn't possible to find almost any systematic info if you don't speak Japanese. Rare occasional available releases are costly and often aren't all that representative since as rule you have no idea what you're listening.

Fortunately for me,annual Vilnius Jazz Festival contains Japanese artists in their program on annual basis,usually presenting leading creative music,so it helps at least at starting point.Mid-generation sax player Naoji Kondo played here in Vilnius in 2009 as part of Yoriyki Harada - Naoji Kondo duo (with piano veteran Yoriyuki Harada).Short fest's press release informs that Kondo plays free jazz from early age but works as practicing psychoanalyst during day time. He played at Moers Fest in Germany,toured Korea - and it's almost all what is known. On many Japanese clubs' sites one can find he's regularly plays in Japan,often - beside of best domestic artists. As far as I know he released only one album recorded live in 1986.

And this album is great - almost no-one plays like that anymore! Acoustic Kondo-lead sax-bass-drums trio contains another interesting modern Japanese creative jazz artist Daisuke Fuwa on bass (played here on Vilnius Jazz in 2012 leading his own Fuwa Works (with two sax players on board)and lesser known drummer Shiro Ohnuma. Surprisingly enough,Kondo trio plays tuneful,even soulful early free jazz recalling Coltrane's transitional works circa late 1965. All musicianship is based on soloist's (usually Kondo himself,but both bassist and drummer has more than enough time for longish solo improvisations)pushing groovy muscular and very bopish music ahead with support of two rest trio members. Kondo plays lot of themes and tunes,very free but never leaves the ground. It's a real joy listen to his human voice-like sax telling stories, emotive,worm and playful. Fuwa is a bit too modern drummer for that music,slightly too heavyweight and rock-like,but he successfully balances on the edge without destroying Kondo's built fragile beauty. Ohnuma is good bassist,if not too original but very successfully continuing great Isao Suzuki's tradition of deep physical acoustic bass. Lot of tunes,tempos (incl.even marching),very warm and inspired live gig with really enthusiastic public,quite good recording quality - all these makes this obscure release worth time and funds spent.Dedicated listener feels like he participates on concert played in modern days by one of late 60s jazz greats without sense of nostalgia. It like time machine brings you right to New York circa 1966 - no-one plays like that in real world anymore.

CODONA Codona 2

Album · 1981 · World Fusion
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siLLy puPPy
Continuing where they left off on their debut album CO-llin Walcott, DO-n Cherry and NA-na Vasconcelos continue their experimental fusion of American jazz, various African styles and Indian influences but this time around they up the experimental ante a notch or two and require the listener to invest a few more listens in order to understand where they are coming from. Upon first listen I didn't like this as much as the debut. Whereas the debut CODONA album kind of had a logic to where they were coming from, this second album throws you for a loop. It's not that it's ridiculously lost in the clouds and creates a whole new musical experience, it's just that the melodies are more intricate and subtle and there are more liberties in the individual instruments creating separate and distinct roles which don't immediately sound pleasant and even ring a little dissonant at times. The band, in effect, are demanding that you evolve as they do in order to understand their progression.

There are all kinds of differences here. For one the band likes to expound on certain ideas. They present a theme and then kind of throw in an extended weirdness, or perhaps you would call it musical variation. On “Malinye” for example, a 12:39 progressive walk through fusion-land, there is an introductory cohesiveness to the song but it changes into a wild vocal frenzy that then turns into an African instrumental affair that incorporates many an ethnic flair to the mix. This is one of the major accomplishments of CODONA, which is the progressive fusion of hitherto unmixed styles of world music. Despite all my praise trying to elevate this album to such heights, I still like it a tad less than the debut, however it is very much recommended for fusion freaks who like a bit more bite and unexpected tumult to their music. This album can be quite exciting and surprising at moments but for an overall appreciation must be heard a few times. A particular sound that remains unique in the musical world as far as I know. I also really like how DO-n Cherry makes his trumpet sound like an elephant at times.

modern jazz movie reviews

WEATHER REPORT Live in Germany 1971

Movie · 2010 · Classic Fusion
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Sean Trane
Well if the world still has to find some live recording from the very first studio all-star line-up (not likely, though), at least we've got now something very close to and we can even see the quintet at work with this just-as-famous version in the form of a German TV show called the Beat Club. With only Airto Moreira gone, replaced by Brazilian countryman Um Romao, the other four being Vitous, Shorter, Mouzon and Zawinul, Weather Report embarked on this TV show adventure not knowing that Alphonse Mouzon would leave the band in a while.

As you'd expect this broadcast consisted mainly of tracks from the debut album, but some are fairly different as WR always made improvisation their force. So you'll recognize 'Umbrellas generic structure, but drafted fairly differently, not just because of Romao's constant change of percussions instruments - he's one of the visual focus of the group, who otherwise remains fairly static and even blows a flute (and later some whistles) for a short while. One of the big difference between the studio album and this broadcast is that Miroslav has taken up the electric bass (his contrabass is still very present but mainly played with a bow), thus allowing even more energy to invade the quintet's shared space. The group's steaming-hot improvised fusion is simply awesome and flows naturally from your speakers like a river of fresh lave spewing out from your volcanic woofers.

Clearly the gravitational centre of the band is Zawinul's Rhodes, but it is clear that it is the group's tightness its main force. Morning Lake is much needed breathing space, starting out slowly with Shorter's sax signalling the dawn for Romao's birdsongs. Just past that Dom pulls an Brazilian berimbau . Drummer Alphonse sings funkilly (rather well, too) a rare sung track in the closing medley, but it's will veer into the Dr Honoris Causa - later on the Body Electric album.

A while later, Mouzon would leave the band and be replaced by drummer Erik Gravatt and this line-up would go on to record Body Electric and the Tokyo concert (released in 77, but part of it in the ISTBE album) and in the process become the definitive line-up of the Vitous- era Weather Report But for now, this German TV broadcast is an inestimable witness of the group's almost original line-up, and is just as essential as their debut album, the Tokyo concert or Body Electric.Too bad it's relatively short, though. Run for this baby...

MEDESKI MARTIN AND WOOD Fly In A Bottle

Movie · 2011 · (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion
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js
“Fly in a Bottle” is a documentary that follows Medeski, Martin and Wood while they are on tour developing the music that will become “Radiolarians”, as well as some of the recording sessions for that same album. The music on here is excellent, MM&W have a come a long way over the years. They were always a talented band from the start, but their confidence has grown. The funky tunes are funkier than ever, and the psychedelic jazz-rock tunes are more powerful, imaginative and original. Almost any music fan might enjoy watching their concerts and even some of their recording sessions, but a lot of the rest of this DVD is for hardcore fans only.

Along with the footage of MM&W playing music, you also get a lot of footage of them on tour visiting ecological tourist spots and talking, hanging out etc, which is where I think a lot of non-fans will probably start losing interest. They seem like nice sincere guys, but they aren’t particularly entertaining or charismatic, which is often the case with nice sincere guys. There are also some artsy short videos that follow the main feature, some more entertaining than others. Fans of MM&W may want to pick this up, it’s a well-made video and the music is excellent, but non-fans may find this lacking in substance in places.

DIXIE DREGS Live At The Montreaux Jazz Festival

Movie · 2005 · Classic Fusion
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Slartibartfast
This was the Dixie Dregs lineup that I first come to know live and otherwise. The Montreaux Jazz Festival performance was used for side two of the LP Night of the Living Dregs. I had no idea the concert was filmed. This represents the band at their prime. Keyboardist Mark Parrish, would soon be replaced by T Lavitz, who is a better keyboard player, but this as this performance testifies, he was no slouch either. Oddly enough, the back cover of this DVD shows a band picture with the original keyboardist from Freefall, Steve Davidowski (guess there was only room for one Steve in this band). Steve Morse was at his most inspired around this time, even though he has certainly grown in skill over the years.

The set list is a little disappointing as it lacks some of the prime cuts from What If (Night Meets Light, Odyssey, Travel Tunes, What If), but I'm not complaining. Now I have something more than just memories of the many Dregs shows I saw back then. It is more of a forward looking set which includes Attila The Hun, that didn't show up on an album until three years later. Also of note, but of less interest to progressive rock fans, is the bluegrass style ditty, Kathreen, never released on a regular album, but only showed up on their demo album, The Great Spectacular, from 1975. If you have a copy of that album, you have something rare, indeed.

Thrown in for bonus are two live TV appearances, one on American Can'tstand (Bandstand) and one on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert. On the former, you get to see them both try out a vocalist, in an attempt to appeal to a more mainstream audience, and with Mark O'Connor, who only played with them for one album, but a few great live shows before the band disbanded for a few years.

As great as the band studio albums were, the live shows took things to an even higher level. Now you can see what you missed, unless you didn't.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Abstract Logix Live! / The New Universe Music Festival 2010

Movie · 2011 · Classic Fusion
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js
Abstract Logix’s New Universe Festival of 2010 was probably one of the more significant fusion concerts in recent history, and it is all captured in excellent form on this concert video. Many of the top names in current fusion are here and what a great varied and colorful approach they all bring to this music that will always be associated with its 70s roots. Ranjit Barot fuses fusion with Indian flavors and orchestral music, Human Element bring back the beautiful noise and chaos that has been absent since the early days of jazz-rock, Wayne Krantz takes on the modern NYC flavor with his harsh jarring free funk, Jimmy Herring plays sentimental, sometimes delicate, progressive rock flavored fusion, and of course the great John McLaughlin rounds it all up with high speed post bop mixed with funk and contemporary fusion. Every single performance is top notch and very convincing in letting us know that there is still plenty of life left in this sometimes maligned genre.

The music on here is great, but the video itself is even better. Its amazing how far concert videos have come over the years. This one is clear as a bell and features lots of accurate close-ups of the musicians as they display their virtuoso skills. They say that fusion is a musician’s music, if that is the case, then this video is a great learning tool for the aspiring player. Much of the footage on here goes right to the source and features the musician’s hands as they work their scales and fret boards. Any aspiring fusionist can pick up a lifetime of high speed licks and extended technique by studying this video and even stop-starting it it frame by frame. Long gone are the days of vague camera angles from way far away and pointless shots of musicians grimacing while they play, this video is all about accuracy and showing you exactly how this music goes down. This is a spirited and enthusiastic concert and highly recommended for fans of modern fusion.

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Live At Montreux 74/84

Movie · 2007 · Classic Fusion
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Slartibartfast
The 1984 appearance of the MO was a lineup that didn't have any of the previous MO lineup of musicians except for John. Still there was a pretty impressive roster. Jonas Hellborg, on bass, steals the show. I suspect he's been rather influenced by Jaco at this point. Also, we also have Bill Evans, fairly fresh out of his stint saxing with Miles Davis. There's also a fine drummer, Danny Gottlieb, who'd played with Pat Metheny prior. Don't know much about Mitchell Forman. With John experimenting with the Synclavier Guitar so much, the keyboards are almost redundant in this ensemble. I had a hard time sitting through this at first. It definitely has that '80's taint, if you know what I mean. But I've warmed up to it. It's a bit like an attempt to return to the magic of the original lineup that doesn't quite get there. Still, if you judge it in the context of the time, it's not too bad.

I got this for one reason and one reason only, it was the two video bits from the Apocalypse lineup of Mahavishu Orchestra. Actually calling them bits isn't quite accurate. Wings of Karma and Hymn to Him are actually decently long pieces. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had some actual orchestra musicians with them there at Montreaux. The first inkling I got that there was some live footage from this MO lineup was a poor quality video of Smile of the Beyond on a certain video clip web site many of us know of. It's very disappointing that we only get two clips from the show with video and the rest are audio only. I'm guessing the rest of the original footage has been lost. One can only hope that it will resurface. The performance is a bit more structured than the more compact MO's could be live, but that's to be expected due to the larger number of musician's involved. Still the core band does get to work in some improvisation, McLaughlin in particular.

This release is all in all a pleasant surprise for 2007, but there's more video out there from the older Mahavishu Orchestras, and I hope to see that material surface soon. It gets a four on the round up.

Artists with Modern Jazz release(s)

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
MILES DAVIS
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A Love Supreme Post Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
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The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Post Bop
CHARLES MINGUS
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'Out to Lunch!' Avant-Garde Jazz
ERIC DOLPHY
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Giant Steps Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
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