JOHN COLTRANE — Olé Coltrane

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JOHN COLTRANE - Olé Coltrane cover
4.54 | 30 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1961

Filed under Hard Bop


A Olé 18:05
B1 Dahomey Dance 10:50
B2 Aisha 7:32

CD bonus:
4. [original untitled ballad: To Her Ladyship] (9:00)

Total Time: 45:45


– John Coltrane / soprano sax on "Olé", tenor sax on "Dahomey Dance" & "Aisha"
– Eric Dolphy (credited as "George Lane") / flute on "Olé" & "To Her Ladyship", alto sax on "Dahomey Dance" & "Aisha"
– Freddie Hubbard / trumpet
– McCoy Tyner / piano
– Reggie Workman / bass
– Art Davis / bass on "Olé" & "Dahomey Dance"
– Elvin Jones / drums

About this release

Atlantic SD 1373

Re-released on CD by Atlantic 81349-2 (1989)

All the selections were recorded on May 25, 1961 at A&R Studios, New York, NY

Bonus track for CD only was first released under the title of Original Untitled Ballad as part of "The Coltrane Legacy" (Atlantic, 1970)

Thanks to Abraxas, snobb, dreadpirateroberts for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Squeezing the album in around changing recording commitments as he left Atlantic for Impulse! John Coltrane and his quintet recorded one of their most satisfying modal records late in the spring of 1961.

Sharing a core line-up with ‘Africa/Brass’ the three pieces comprising the original pressing of ‘Ole Coltrane’ provide just thirty five or so minutes of magic from John and co, though it's certainly worthwhile - each minute is memorable for the right reasons.

Joined by guests (Hubbard on trumpet and Art Davis on bass) an already impressive quintet launch into the semi-meditative title track, a long 3/4 jam reminiscent of ‘My Favourite Things' but which was based on a Spanish folk song known as 'El Vito.' While Tyner’s piano and Coltrane’s soprano phrasing is most obviously similar, Coltrane himself suggested that the 3/4 timing was something of a "straight jacket" in terms of soloing. Dolphy’s brief flute part and Hubbard’s usual fine work stand out as much as Coltrane’s hypnotic saxophone, where he often plays clear lines and variations of the theme. (Freddie Hubbard also guests on ‘Arica/Brass’ and would be back for Coltrane’s free-jazz monster, ‘Ascension’ a few years later.)

Of the second side, ‘Dahomey Dance’ is more ‘straight ahead’ hard bop but with perhaps just a little more of a laid back feel, with Jones’ swinging beat keeping things on track. Closing with McCoy Tyner’s soothing ‘Aisha,’ a showpiece for the pianist as both player and composer, the song casts its own soft spell, one that rivals the opener for impact. Once again Freddie Hubbard makes a soulful impression and it’s the perfect ending to what fast became my second favourite Coltrane release upon purchase.

This is an essential Coltrane record, almost a parting gift to Atlantic, and an enduring one at that. Modal jazz was reasonably young at this point in Jazz history (Davis’ landmark composition ‘Milestones’ just three years old and ‘Kind of Blue’ only two) and Coltrane would keep exploring and adding to those ideas, but with ‘Ole’ we’re privy to some of his first steps (along with last year’s ‘Coltrane Jazz’) and they’re exciting steps too, and not just because they would eventually lead to ‘A Love Supreme.’

*The CD Reissue adds ballad ‘To Her Ladyship’ to the CD and it’s a worthy addition, more traditional sounding than Tyner’s ‘Aisha’ but still graced with fine performances.

Members reviews

Sean Trane
Definitely Trane’s other key 61-released album along with Africa/Brass, Olé is simply the best album he recorded with the Atlantic label, daring and adventurous enough that it could’ve been released on Impulse! Still by this time, Trane’s first quartet had not come to fruition yet, as the bass is still shared by Workman and Art Davis, while on winds, John shares the spotlight with the ever-excellent Freddie Hubbard and George Lane. With a very orangey artwork colour (shared by both Atlantic and Impulse!), Olé was recorded only two days after Africa/Brass, and this is no accident. If A/B had the obvious African influences on some tracks, Olé cannot escape showing its Spanish influences, at least on the title track.

Opening on a Flamenco-tinged contrabass, Olé soon engages in a strange piano-led raga trance, where Trane acts as the snake charmer with his haunting sax line, but Lane’s flute is the dragon charmer and just after that, Hubbard tames the tiger with his trumpet. What an amazing start, but things simply won’t calm down and soon enough, right after Tyner takes over the controls, the two basses are adding some amazing depth, with one plucked bass, while the second gets tamed by its bow to shriek some stupendous and guttural growls. Maybe a little later than Mingus’ Ysabel’s Table Dance or Miles & Evans’ Aranjuez pieces, Trane is now hot on their heels to post-bop’s supremacy race. Yes, Olé’s sidelong title track is one of the master’s top 10 tracks ever, and one of his most instantly recognisable.

The flipside opens with Dahomey Dance, the jazz is a lot more standard where the African influence doesn’t really appear obvious, neither immediately, nor in the long run. But it features a cool enthralling groove. The McCoy-penned Aisha might hint towards a Middle-East or Maghreb influence. Yup, the flipsude certainly fail to confirm the excitement of the A-side, but the Olé title track is soooo awesome that it is essential all by itself.

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