Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Still here... Coltrane... and Miles... first use of the word 'plangent'...
Well -I didn't make Wales for various reasons so am spending the week trying to finalise my solo cd and get the bugger finished by saturday. Here's some Coltrane for no other reason than Bruno sent me a couple of absolutely beautiful tracks by Donna Mc Kevitt and I know he likes Trane so – thanks Bruno... I've ordered the cd!
First out of the box – 'Stardust,' a longish meditation on the Carmichael tune. It has the feel of a late night session, relaxed and bluesy. Coltrane states the theme at a very slow tempo, with little embellishment, taking just one chorus, this unusual brevity giving most of the solo space to the others. Wilbur Harden, who was an accomplished and underrated trumpeter and doubler on flugelhorn, takes a warm, plangent (in the sense of plaintive rather than loud/ringing) solo, satisfactorily exploring the harmonies, ending on a long trill. Garland is in reflective mood as well, holding back and leaving space with an economy of notes placed just so as the brushes of the drummer swish behind him. Garland has a distinctive touch and usually activates a bouncy, springing line - which he (inevitably?) falls into later in the solo, getting busier with long cascades of notes up and down the keyboard, finally to end on a block-chorded section (another of his trademarks). Paul Chambers plays an elegant arco solo, subtly swinging. Coltrane takes the out chorus, ending on a very brief unaccompanied flourish before the band come in on the last chord.
Coltrane was an incredible player of ballads – as further proved by the second selection from this session: 'Invitation.' Another slow track, but the rhythm is more displaced and busy as Chambers plays a recurring doubled time figure that he goes in and out of. Coltrane stretches out more here. He plays a long, mostly double-timed solo that is crammed with an emotional urgency– yet each note seems right. Harden slows it down – compare the different rhythmic styles – using longer notes and more space. Almost an echo of the difference between Miles and Coltrane – except Harden has his own road and travelled it intriguingly throughout his unfortunately brief career. (He suffered a debilitating illness in his thirties and effectively disappeared). A brief chorus – then Coltrane returns with more of the same – the solo balance tipped towards him this time. An abrupt ending...
The one with Miles is a live track – blimey, they kick off at a fair lick! 'Milestones,' which is just one of those tunes that makes you tap your foot and click your fingers...
Miles open horn, brassy and fast spirals, long series of notes bebop style – I always figured that he had more technique than some critics made out – certainly on those classic later sixties tracks when he led the new turks who pushed him to the limits at times – but he always seemed to come through. Coltrane starts a fraction off mike then comes up stage centre – sheets of divine tenor madness reeling out. On this modal tune, it's interesting how far he's already come in a couple of years from the sessions with Harden. More vocalised smeared notes, expanding the timbre and range of the saxophone, for a start. Listen to the drummer emulate and play back some of his rapid-fire runs. The piano's solo is driven closely by the drums, echoing cymbals and polyrhythmic displacement – long splurges of single notes with occasionally chorded passages – I think it's Wynton Kelly and Jimmy Cobb here -who played together a lot inside and outside the Davis band. A ragged re-entry by the ensemble horns returning with the B theme before a brief A theme re-statement. Much applause. Of course...
(John Coltrane: ten sax; Wilbur Harden:tr & flhn; Freddie Hubbard:tr; Red Garland: piano; Paul Chambers:bass; Jimmy Cobb, Arthur Taylor:drums).
Miles Davis and John Coltrane
Miles Davis: Trumpet; John Coltrane: tenor saxophone;Wynton Kelly or Bill Evans: piano; Paul Chambers: bass; Jimmy Cobb: drums).