JOHN COLTRANE — Meditations (review)

JOHN COLTRANE — Meditations album cover Album · 1966 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Sean Trane
What a difference it makes between the official Meditations and the pre-meditations (the posthumous release called First Meditations). The present album is probably the hinge between the two Coltrane quartet, as Elvin, Jimmy and McCoy are still there, but we’re also hearing from Pharoah Sanders and Rashied Ali, both kingpins of Trane’s second quartet. As a matter of fact, only Alice is missing. With Elvin and Pharoah on the right channel, Rashied and Trane are busy on the left channel, Meditations is generally seen as the next major album after ALS, and the annunciator or precursory of the Ascension to come, even if maybe the latter might have come prior to the present, but both are sonically close enough, if it wasn’t for two shorter tracks that bring a sense of normalcy on the present.

Opening on the downright dissonant free-jazz of Father And Son, it slowly cools down to a more audible second part (the tracks segue into each other) of the vinyl side called Compassion (for our ears maybe, John??). Opening the flipside with sleepy and standardy Love but the aural respite is rather short (well 8-mins), since the ensuing (drastic) Consequences is merciless on your eardrums, with dissonance that could be taken from Ascension. At the 2/3 mark, Tyner manages to bring back some welcome normalcy, though. The album closes on the short Serenity, which is a sonic reference to ALS’s closing statements.

In some ways Meditations is not easier on your sanity than Ascension is, but in its softer moments, it’s definitely more accessible, so if you’re a little afraid to approach the awesome Ascension without some kind of aural preparation, then Meditations is the logical next step after ALS.
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