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John Coltrane "The John Coltrane Quartet Plays" (1965): Impulse

February 11, 1993|BUDDY SEIGAL

For years, much of Coltrane's later output was snubbed by fans and critics alike, and that's a shame; some of his most intense and emotional work was produced late in his career. Indeed, the jazz world is still playing catch-up with his heroic experimentation of the mid-'60s. For this album, the quartet played "Brazilia," "Nature Boy" and "Song of Praise," but "Chim Chim Cheree" is the mind-boggler, all but unrecognizable as a tune from Disney's "Mary Poppins."

Following the commercial and artistic success of "My Favorite Things" in 1961, Coltrane frequently tackled pop tunes in 3/4 time, but the brisk tempo and restless spirit of "Chim Chim Cheree" set it apart from his earlier efforts along these lines. His solos on soprano sax are as untamed as they are inspired, his "sheets of sound" pouring forth with creative energy rare even for him.

Pianist McCoy Tyner supports with his usual stellar blend of melodicism and percussiveness, his huge chords weaving intricate colors and textures around Coltrane's mystical voicings and drummer Elvin Jones' adventurous thrashing. The year was 1965, and Coltrane had but two more years to live--here, the quartet plays as if they knew it.

(Of special interest to O.C. readers: The bass on "Nature Boy" is played by Art Davis, who lives in Costa Mesa and teaches at Orange Coast College.)

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