JOHN COLTRANE — Blue Train (review)

JOHN COLTRANE — Blue Train album cover Album · 1957 · Hard Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Matt
One of the true great jazz records and of course there is a story behind the album "Blue Train", as most know John Coltrane only ever released the one album on Blue Note. I know you may say what about "Coltrane Time" but that was originally released in 1959 and not 62 and the album was actually from United Artists and was named "Stereo Drive" with Cecil Taylor being the actual leader but back to the story which is John Coltrane popped into the Blue note office one night to ask Alfred Lion for some Sidney Bechet records and both men spoke about the possibility of an album but the contractual side was usually ran by Francis Wolff and he was not present but John returned to the office and met with Alfred at a later date and agreed upon a small advance but as John was about to put pen to paper Alfred's cat departed via the window and when he saw someone taking the cat he rushed out the office to retrieve it. When Alfred returned John was gone and the contract was not signed but on the date that was agreed upon by both men John Coltrane was present and Jazz history was recorded with one of the best Hard Bop if not the best for many, ever recorded. We have one of the hottest young trumpet players at the time being Lee Morgan and it is still a little over six more years for him to have his hit with his album "The Sidewinder". Curtis Fuller is on trombone and he was right in his prime at this time, Kenny Drew is on piano and he sure had a few sessions to record at Blue Note still. The rythmn section is that great duo from the Miles Davis band who had been playing with John constantly at the time and they are Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones belting the drums with his hard hittin' style.One other muscian who I did not list is John Coltrane and tenor saxophone was the instrument that he played and he still is top of the pile today.

Four of the five compositions are written by John Coltrane and only one is a cover which is 'I'm Old Fashioned". The opener which is the album title "Blue Train" with everybody except for Philly on drums having a solo with its blues intro where the theme is played by Curtis on trombone with the band gradually coming in but it is John on his tenor that is first with that usual spectacular result,discodant but not to far out for that time and still right on the rythmn and yet it does sound jumpy but still so smooth with those note changes on his tenor which seem to flow forth like water from him. Lee Morgan still young but could he play trumpet as evidenced by his solo and of course Curtis follows with some great trombone blowing. On all the solos except with Kenny's beautiful swinger on piano were Paul Chamber's bass follows the band kicks in at the end giving the tune a great continual feel and no wonder it is a masterpiece."Moments Notice" is the next one with that quick tempo time and John's tenor giving the intro and the band kicking in with the theme your attention is guaranteed to this toe tapper with another of those Coltrane solos that pour out of the man's saxophone and the band all have a go with Paul Chambers showing off his technique with the bow but Curtis and Lee preceed him in the comp. The music does not lose any standard in any section of the album and "Locomotion" with Philly finally giving us a few rolls from his drum kit at the intro is blues and more quick up tempo and the solos are played with a frantic feel and of course John's is just superb with his rapid changes and not one volume drop is present. How did he blow like that ? "I'm Old Fashined" is the only ballad and a pleasant respite within the album and given beautiful treatment with one of John's slow delicous slow intros and solos. The album too quickly comes to a close with "Lazy Bird" winding things up which is a Coltrane composition with another up tempo time and John does not go first in this one as Lee gets a go and wonderful quick high trumpet play is the result. Curtis follows with John and Paul is back bowing on that bass and Philly finally gets a full go and there are not that many drummers where I like their solos but Philly Joe Jones with Art Blakey are the ones, as they smashed the kit and always stayed with the beat and did not noodle off in boring directions.Wonderful stuff from Philly on drums. One cannot forget the motor to all this superb jazz and that was Paul Chambers on bass who provided a rock solid foundation with Philly's assistance on drums to creating this jazz masterpiece which is not the only one that they particapated in.

Essential Hard Bop Jazz if you do not have this in your collection yet, you really do not have a collection because this album "Blue Train" is one of those all time classics from this period in the mid to late fifties. It was also one of Alfred Lion's favourites, so it must be good and of course he produced it!
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