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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Jack Ashby




Impulse! 314 589 295-2 (4CDs)



John Coltrane - tenor, soprano & alto saxophones and percussion with varied personnels including : Miles Davis & Donald Byrd - trumpet; Pharoah Sanders, Cannonball Adderley, Eric Dolphy - saxophones and flute; McCoy Tyner, Wynton Kelly, Tommy Flanagan, Alice Coltrane, Thelonious Monk - piano; Jimmy Garrison, Paul Chambers, Wilbur Ware - bass; Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Shadow Wilson, Rashied Ali - drums.
Recorded 1955 - 1967
Originally released on the Prestige, Fantasy, Blue Note, Atlantic and Impulse! labels.

DISC 1 Harmonic And Melodic
1. Straight Street
2. Trinkle Tinkle
3. Lazy Bird
4. Countdown
5. Naima
6. Giant Steps ( alternative take )
7. Fifth House
8. After The Rain
9. Crescent
10. A Love Supreme: Part 1 - Acknowledgement
11. Dear Lord
12. Offering
13. Iris
DISC 2 Rhythmic
1. Stablemates
2. Lover
3. My Favourite Things
4. Impressions
5. Nature Boy ( first version )
6. Song Of Praise
7. Compassion
8. Tranesonic
9. Venus
DISC 3 Elvin And Trane
1. Village Blues
2. Liberia
3. Mile's Mode
4. Up 'Gainst The Wall
5. All Or Nothing At All
6. Your Lady
7. The Drum Thing
8. Wise One
9. A Love Supreme: Part 3 - Pursuance
10. The Last Blues
11. Sun Ship
12. Serenity
DISC 4 Live
1. Two Bass Hit
2. Impressions
3. I Want To Talk About You
4. Nature Boy/One Up, One Down
5. Naima

It is refreshing in today's climate of never ending re-issues that Impulse! have seen fit to make so many imaginative compilations available. There has been a fine series of enhanced discs in recent months - the de-luxe discs have included "Ballads", "Coltrane" and recently "A Love Supreme", all of which have been doubles containing previously unreleased and related material. With "Legacy" the company has combined with the other major labels that John Coltrane recorded for to produce the most significant and comprehensive over-view of his career so far. Forget the price, this four CD set represents possibly the best value for money in terms of content and quality of any major edition released to date.

The discs are not presented as a time-line, although each separate disc is in chronological order. The idea behind this compilation is that each album serves to illustrate a different aspect of the style of John Coltrane. I find this to be rather a tentative concept - assuredly the last CD is made up entirely of live performances, but in general the actual way in which each section is ordered is really not of the greatest importance. This minor criticism aside, the selection of material contained herein is absolutely superb. The choices were made by Coltrane's son, Ravi, who is a first class saxophone player in his own right. Ravi was only two years old at the time of his father's demise and he must have experienced great anguish in choosing to become a musician himself. His understanding of his parent's work is obviously very deep, as it would be difficult to imagine a more imaginative and complete representation of the career of John Coltrane than the one illustrated by the recordings contained in this box set.

It would be virtually impossible to do a satisfactory track by track analysis - there is enough variety and outstanding music here to merit a book rather than a review. It is probably enough to say that all of the famous and significant albums are featured to some degree -"Blue Train", "Giant Steps", "Impressions ", " My Favourite Things", "A Love Supreme" etc. etc. etc. There are one or to unexpected delights - disc two contains "Lover" from the album " The Last Trane" which, to my ears, is one of the great up-tempo Hard-Bop recordings.

Each different phase of Coltrane's development is carefully documented on this issue and the mastering is as good as it gets. There are so many gems here, and although I was familiar with all but one track ( from an early Miles Davis session ) it has been a sheer delight to here this music in the present enhanced setting. Whilst I have the original albums, I will continue to listen to this, and use it in my teaching, and for my own pleasure, whenever I require an illustration of the musical life of Coltrane but do not have the time to play several albums to give a broad spectrum. It goes without saying that this is extremely important music - it must rate alongside Armstrong's Hot Fives, Ellington's major compositions and the recorded works of Charlie Parker.

The packaging and liner are magnificent and I must urge any listener who wishes to hear a broad representation of some of the greatest recordings in the history of the music to buy this set - it will assuredly be recognised as one of the classic compilations.

Dick Stafford

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