Stories » John Coltrane's newly discovered album from 1963 - 'Both Directions At Once' / Pitchfork

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John Coltrane's newly discovered album from 1963 - 'Both Directions At Once' / Pitchfork

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From April 1962 to September 1965, while under contract to the record label Impulse!, John Coltrane led a more or less consistent working group with the same four musicians. After his death in 1967, this group-Coltrane on tenor and soprano saxophone, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, Elvin Jones on drums-became known as Coltrane's "classic quartet." The group was powerful, elegant, and scarily deep. It was also a well-proportioned framing device. It made an artist with great ambitions easier to understand.

A fair amount of Coltrane's music has been released after the fact, but nothing that would seem, from a distance, quite so canonical as Both Directions At Once, which is 90 minutes worth of (mostly) previously unheard recordings made at Rudy Van Gelder's studio on March 6, 1963-the middle of the classic-quartet period. The Van Gelder studio, in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, can be considered part of the framing device. It was where the group did nearly all its studio work. For reasons of acoustics, it had a 39-foot-high, cathedral-like, vaulted wooden ceiling, fabricated by the same Oregon lumber company that made blimp hangars during World War II. Coltrane's music during that period, possibly encouraged by the cathedral-like room, became blimpier and churchier.

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