Stories » John Coltrane 'Both Directions at Once' hints at explorations to come / jazz & blues report

Top 10 for Dec

John Coltrane 'Both Directions at Once' hints at explorations to come / jazz & blues report

Bookmark and Share

Recorded one day before his legendary collaboration with singer Johnny Hartman, the tapes of these sessions remained unreleased and in John Coltrane's family's possession until now.  Seemingly a reference session for the leader, with several performances generically titled, they display music certainly of release-worthy caliber by one of the most notable ensembles in jazz. These tracks further hint at the master saxophonist's explorations to come. 

The classic quartet: Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones is in top-notch form.  The leadoff rack, "Untitled Original 11383", features soprano sax, Trane maintaining a barely-bridled energy through theme and solo and followed up by the first of a number of delightful choruses from McCoy Tyner.  The pianist's play throughout makes this set worth the trip on its own.  That said, Jimmy Garrison's ostinato bass grounds a piano-less run through of "Nature Boy"; the first of three border-stretching tenor statements, peaking on the first half of "Slow Blues" (Tyner joining in mid-flight).

Drummer Elvin Jones' signature fire and fury is on full display in dialogue with the leader on the set closer, "One Up, One Down".  The degree to which this release is critical to filling out Mr. Coltrane's creative portrait will quite likely ignite animated conversation.  What's more assured is that this is a captivating, well-timed snapshot of a giant of the genre- and of a jazz quartet that stands with the finest ever assembled.

This release is offered in both as a single-disc and deluxe two-disc versions, the second disc offering alternate takes of the fare featured on Disc One.