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John Coltrane - Both Directions At Once - LP -

Price per Unit (stuk): €29.95

The spinechillingly emotional saxophonist Albert Ayler said of his 1960s contemporaries John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders: “Trane was the father. Pharoah was the son. I was the holy ghost.” That sax triumvirate have many heirs (notably Kamasi Washington), but the spiritually restless Coltrane will always be the master. When the story broke of an unreleased Coltrane studio session, lost since its creation on 6 March 1963 but recovered from his late first wife’s archives, it was big news.

That tape, featuring regulars McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums, is now released as a single seven-track CD or LP, or a deluxe version with all 14 completed pieces. The Lost Album eavesdrops on a day in the short life of one of modern music’s giants in a period of turmoil. Coltrane is audibly striving to release himself from the shackles of traditional song structures here, despite still being drawn to their improv challenges, and simultaneously pursuing a more open, free-floating sound beyond song shapes and chords. Several takes of the same tunes make a strong case for getting the deluxe version to get a sense of just how unquenchably resourceful an improviser he was. The soprano solo on the Latin/swing theme Untitled Original 11386 launches fragmentedly in one version, venomously in another. The lyrical, ingeniously modulated balladeering on two takes of Vilia, from The Merry Widow, looks back to an earlier jazz. On the surging modal swinger Impressions, meanwhile, Coltrane shows how melodically varied his escapes from the tune’s repeating three-mode chordal loop can be, and how differently he handles tone and line when his mercurial pianist drops out halfway.

Improv conundrums but with an unwavering spiritual intent, these on-the-fly Coltrane experiments were part of a 1960s step-change in the evolution of jazz and much else in contemporary music, still making waves from those long-gone analogue days to the eclectic present.

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