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Discussion in 'Music Discussion' started by Yax, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    One of the famous Elvin Jones/John Coltrane moments, live. Musthave guys!

    The mid-1960s represented a period of astonishing creativity for Coltrane, with Crescent, A Love Supreme, Ascension and Sun Ship following hard on each other's heels. Some of the material from this set was issued in a higher-fidelity performance on Impulse's New Thing at Newport. But whatever the audio shortcomings, Coltrane's 30-minute solo on the title track, against Elvin Jones' surging drums, is a tour de force. The set is worth it for that alone, but you also get fresh accounts of 'Trane standbys like Afro Blue and My Favourite Things. Not as jaw-dropping as what it must have been like to be there, but close.

    Live at the Half Note: One Down, One Up
    Released October 11, 2005
    Recorded March 26 and May 7, 1965

    Original CD release Live at the Half Note: One Down, One Up (Impulse!).

    Disc 1
    1. "Introduction and Announcements" – 1:36
    2. "One Down, One Up" – 27:39
    3. "Announcement" – 0:51
    4. "Afro Blue" – 12:44
    Disc 2
    1. "Introduction and Announcements" – 0:43
    2. "Song of Praise" – 19:38
    3. "Announcements" – 0:43
    4. "My Favorite Things" – 22:37
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
  2. jazz from hell

    jazz from hell Ancient Mariner

    I have both Crescent and that live album, Crescent I obviously like (A Love Supreme's smaller brother), that live one I never listen to. I don't know Sun Ship, why especially that one, Foro?
    That both Tyner and Elvin left after Ascension is understandable to me; Tyner said somewhere he couldn't even hear himself while playing with that band. I am no Free Jazz fan either, however I have seen some impressive live footage with Ali, and their concept of 'multidirectional rhythms' is quite interesting.
  3. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    I've heard Sun Ship I think. That's primarily soprano sax work right?
  4. JudasMyGuide

    JudasMyGuide Domini canis

    I'll have to listen to Trane again (and thank you guys for making me do so), but IIRC, my top 5 used to be

    Blue Train
    A Love Supreme
    Giant Steps

    but that was a long time ago. It'll be possibly different now.

    Actually, I have been neglecting jazz lately. Should improve that, I guess. However, when I was a lot into it, Trane was one of my 4 faves, along with Brubeck, Mingus and Corea (I used to consider Django & Grappelli a somewhat separate, different sort).
    Forostar likes this.
  5. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    No. The cover photo shows Coltrane playing soprano saxophone, but he only plays tenor on this date.
    It's a while ago since I heard it but I remember it struck a chord. A while back I bought a special edition, I still need to hear:
    Here a song with nice bass work in beginning and end. I like that kind of stuff. ;)

    Crescent is more than just A Love Supreme's smaller brother. If it is a brother, it is the elder. ;) It came out before and has its own qualities. The Drum Thing is mystical, meditative and haunting!
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
  6. jazz from hell

    jazz from hell Ancient Mariner

    It's the smaller predecessor, quite obviously. In music, smaller brothers often get born before the bigger ones. See AOB and CW, or SIT and SSOASS.
  7. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    On The Lewis Porter book, I am reading about it, and although many people are very enthousiastic I see that it is a lot about the music. Of course, this is about a musician. But I am not interested in longwinding (music theory) stories about all his phrases and melodies. I am interested in his life, in the musicians he played with. How he worked with Van Gelder. On information on the albums, dates, places, concerts. Etc. etc. How about all this? Is there enough room for these BIOgraphical details, aren't they pushed away too much by musical analysis?
  8. jazz from hell

    jazz from hell Ancient Mariner

    Well, there's quite a lot of analysis, but it never gets boring, and it's about Coltrane's life and personality and the history behind these albums as well as the music.
    What particularly makes this book so enjoyable is that you can feel Porter is primarily a huge fan -- he sometimes discusses small, intriguing details in the albums that probably nobody but him ever noticed. For example:
  9. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    That's nice! I like such trivia.

    I don't condemn this in particular, but look at this most rated review on Amazon. The reviewer is glad this is not (only/mostly) a portrait by a fan:

    John Coltrane - His Life and Music
    I have probably read nearly every biography on John Coltrane that is available in the hope of finding writing that is worthy of the scope of this jazz master's genius. Most of the reading I've done has been fairly disappointing...more like glorified fanzine articles rather than serious discussions of the man and his music. Eberhard Jost in his book Free Jazz does do some pretty in-depth analysis of the music of Coltrane, but almost all other books focus more on gossip and life details and leave the musical analysis to vague lofty sounding phrases that have very little meaning on a real level.
    So Lewis Porter's book is a breath of fresh air, not just in writing about Coltrane, but also in jazz scholarship in general. Porter's is the first jazz biography I've read that is a really musicological biography and worthy to stand up to the biographies written about classical music figures. Rather than create a portrait with personal meditations, as J.C. Thomas did in Chasin' the Trane, or beating a predetermined ideological drum, as Frank Kofsky did in John Coltrane and the Jazz Revolution of the `60s, or create a fanzine kind of portrait, as Bill Cole did (by far the best of the pre-Porter bios, but still lightweight musically) or create a sort of modern day hagiography, as Eric Nisenson did in Ascension, John Coltrane's Quest, Porter gives us a straight biography, with little personal interjection, and a lot of penetrating insights based on the actual music Coltrane produced.
    Porter's book has the benefit of more years of research into Coltrane's life and legacy. Increasingly, as the years since the 60s have worn on, it has become clear that the influence of Coltrane is perhaps the biggest single influence on all facets of jazz, arguably equaling or maybe even exceeding the influence of Charlie Parker. His is certainly the most all-pervading voice since Bird and the influence doesn't seem to be waning as the millennium turns. Porter's book relies on the best of the earlier biographies. He quotes Thomas and Cole with some frequency. But he also relies on a welter of recorded interviews with Trane, interviews with those who knew Trane, and with surviving family members, including much precious information about Trane's early years from his cousin Mary and from many of his childhood and Philly friends. The picture that emerges is not radically different than the picture we get from earlier biographies. All of the elements of the Coltrane mystique are there; the obsessive practicing, the drive to succeed, the drug addicted years, the dramatic kicking of the habit, the later search for musical and spiritual Truth, and the sudden and tragic death. But devoid of interpretation, these facts loose some of the legend surrounding them. To me, this can only be a good thing. Coltrane would not have wanted the worship that has developed around him. The details of Trane's life as outlined by Porter show a man who was deeply gifted, haunted by childhood loss, driven to perfect his art, and yet also daunted by lingering addictions and the physical havoc that he had played on his body early in his life. This Trane is no less worthy of honor than the legendary Trane, and a bit more loveable and human.
    Where the Porter biography has it over all others is in the copious musical examples. Porter analyzes many recorded solos in detail, including Giant Steps, My Favorite Things, a Love Supreme, and perhaps most impressively Venus, from Coltrane's last recorded album. Porter's skill as a musicologist is quite impressive and a gift that is rarely given to jazz literature. He analyzes Trane's changing improvisational technique, from the early "sheets of sound" period, where pattern after pattern of complex, harmonically based scales are piled over chords, to the more melodically based modal material, based on the manipulation of short melodic cells. Porter gives us a glimpse into the mind of a genius here, showing the amazing logical processes behind Coltrane's font of inspiration. Also, for those who don't want this type of musical analysis, the chapters are located at dramatic breaks in the biography, and are easily skipped without loss of any significant information. This makes the book still accessible for the non-musician.
    This is not a perfect book. Porter does occasionally make himself known as an author, something which is not usual in scholarly biographies. This usually happens when he interjects the phrase, in my opinion. It's not a real fault, but in a book of such scholarly aspirations, these comments probably should have been edited out or reworded so that they didn't jar quite as much. More serious is the chapter that discusses the medical issues with Trane's death. Much nonsense has circulated about Trane's death, which Porter attempts to correct. Unfortunately, he does so with poorly drawn medical arguments. For instance, cirrhosis of the liver has very little if anything to do with liver cancer, and while he is correct that for cirrhosis to occur the patient has to be an active alcoholic or drug abuser, some studies indicate liver cancer can be affected by abuser, even years after the patient stops using. The causes of Trane's death are probably complex and may never be fully explained, but Porter should have checked his medical sources a bit more carefully or steered clear of this potential minefield.
    But despite those fairly small points, this is a major step forward in Coltrane scholarship and in the whole field of Jazz Studies. Porter has set a new high for jazz writing; one that I hope will be met by a new crop of scholars. If any American art form deserves this kind of scrutiny, jazz is it.
  10. jazz from hell

    jazz from hell Ancient Mariner

    And I agree in the sense that I can't stand books about famous people that are just a collection of superlatives and glorifications. By calling Porter a fan I mean that his book isn't just a dry analytical study -- because that's what you seemed to be afraid of. The analytical parts are quite extended, but Porter really knows his subject like hardly anyone else, by a personal and life-long exploration.
    Forostar likes this.
  11. jazz from hell

    jazz from hell Ancient Mariner

    BTW Most of these albums one has to listen to with loudspeakers imo; you've got the sax and drums panned quite hard to the sides, which can be very annoying with headphones.
  12. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    That is the worst advice I have ever read on this forum. I totally disagree. Thousand percent. I enjoyed most if not all releases with headphones. We're talking about Van Gelder and I love separation personally. Perfect match. For me jazz is a lot about recognizing and enjoying individual contributions (Individuals are often mentioned on album covers as well). The music breathes with space in between instruments. I like to and can focus very well on drums, which is most important for me. I started to like jazz because of the great drummers. Drums on the side have a large audio spectrum range and the playing and sound, especially cymbals, can be heard very well this way. With headphones there's more focus, more to be deduced; more ear for detail (hello Lewis Porter), more enjoyment.

    On Van Gelder's sound, I found some content that IMO really can be heard best by using headphones:

    While recording at a high level, with only two microphones on a stand, Van Gelder managed to get a clarity from the drums and bass that no one else had. In fact, he caught the sound of an entire rhythm section – bass, piano and drums – in proper perspective, something other engineers hadn’t thought possible. Using real and electronic echo, Van Gelder pulled sound and power from horn players unheard of outside of live performance. When Van Gelder moved to Englewood he built an elaborate studio with churchlike ceilings and cross-beams. By this point, he’d dropped the optometry.

    Van Gelder always got spectacular performance in the high end from his gear, which was obviously most evident in the cymbals on his recordings. From what I've heard (with my ears), recording technology didn't really hit its full stride with high fidelity and full-range frequency response until around 1955, but regardless he was always a frontrunner with respect to this.

    Although I usually prefer mono mixes of his stuff, if I want to hear the detail and intricacies of the drums (for any jazz recording really), stereo listening with headphonesis definitely the way to go.

    ... the one thing that I've felt Van Gelder really captured when almost nobody else was doing it was the full power of the drumkit. The way he recorded Tony Williams and Elvin Jones and Max Roach - those recordings sound like real drumkits, and the simulated sound of a lot of drum recordings has always been a pet peeve of mine (and carries on to even the jazz recordings of the 2000s, by the way). Inevitably, when I want to hear a fifties or sixties recording with 'real' drums, I put on something RVG did.

    I'm very fond of the drum sound, and especially the clarity and airiness of the ride cymbal sound, on albums like Smokin' by Miles Davis and Somethin' Else by Miles Davis Cannonball Adderly. It's not a big or showy or in-your-face sound, but it's very clean and natural sounding, and sympathetic to the music, IMO.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
    Deus_Adrian likes this.
  13. jazz from hell

    jazz from hell Ancient Mariner

    No need to get offended, Foro, I didn't criticize the sound of these album (and I do think they sound great). I was writing about the extreme panning, which wasn't really thought to be listened to on headphones; it's quite a recent phenomenon that everyone listens on headphones or earbuds, you can find plenty of articles about that as well. So if you take A Love Supreme, and you want to concentrate on the drums on the right side by listening on headphones, you really wouldn't turn it up or you'd be deaf on your other ear by the end of it, because the sax on the left is *very* loud.
  14. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    I didn't mean to come across as to (be) offend(ed). I simply disagree that headphones is a bad thing, when stuff is panned to one side. I don't need to put the volume that hard to hear it well (not that hard that the sax hurt my ears). ;)

    Anyway, I like how this thread is revived!

    May I ask how you browse/discover through jazz? I started by searching for albums on which Elvin Jones played. And other drummers, like Art Blakey and Max Roach. Tony Williams and several others. Also, many McTyner albums are really nice.
    Deus_Adrian likes this.
  15. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    @jazz from hell are you referring to albums recorded in mono and later remixed in stereo?
  16. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    I really like it. I like to hear the differences in style of soloing and I love the drums underneath. There are several cool outburst. Also the way the ensemble goes (as if feels suddenly) back to the theme, I like those changes.

    Ascencion is from June 1965. I don't think Elvin and McCoy didn't like it.

    Afterwards they still did:

    1965-07-02 New Thing at Newport (split LP with Archie Shepp) McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones (John Coltrane's set) 1965
    1965-08-26 Sun Ship
    1965-09-02 First Meditations (for quartet)
    1965-09-02 part of Infinity (the song Joy recorded with the quartet)
    1965-09-30 Live in Seattle McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones, Donald Garrett, Pharoah Sanders
    1965-10-01 Om McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones, Donald Garrett, Pharoah Sanders, Joe Brazil
    1965-10-14 part of Kulu Sé Mama 2 tracks recorded with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones, Pharoah Sanders, Donald Rafael Garrett, Frank Butler, Juno Lewis

    If I remember well: yes they indeed preferred the quartet stuff but were still very much involved. It really changed when the second drummer arrived.
    That's when they probably didn't like it anymore:

    1965-11-23 Meditations McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones, Pharoah Sanders, Rashied Ali
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
  17. jazz from hell

    jazz from hell Ancient Mariner

    No, you're probably right. Todays ears want too much balance.
    I don't check out so much new stuff. Sometimes I just come across something that I think is good, jazz or not.
    I thought this one wasn't too shabby:

    and the virtuoso version:

    I think the conga solo would be good for sampling:

    @Mosh, I think the 60s records came out in stereo originally, sometimes mono versions and different version anyway. Which ones were remixed?
  18. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Hi Jazz, please check my previous post, you might have just missed it. Will react to your vids later!
  19. jazz from hell

    jazz from hell Ancient Mariner

    Ok @Ascension, I mixed that up. For me the album sounded like too much ecstasy, but I know people that like it for being Free.
  20. Deus_Adrian

    Deus_Adrian Prince of the Final Frontier

    Get the Max Roach Mosiac boxed set if you havent already. Essential.

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