John Coltrane Quartet - John Coltrane Quartet Plays, The (Music CD)
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From the opening strains of "Chim Chim Cheree," it's obvious that this unlikely tune represents a return to the near-Eastern style of incantation which made "My Favorite Things" such a hypnotic vehicle for extended improvisation. McCoy Tyner's tart, chanting chords and Jimmy Garrison's elliptical vamp pare all the sentimentality away from the tune, providing a sultry rhythmic/harmonic ambience for Trane's freewheeling soprano flights. While the relative familiarity of this and other themes lends a reflective note to this session, the level of improvisational intensity is still imposing.
"Brazilia" begins with a rolling, airy duet between Coltrane and Elvin Jones, culminating in a powerful 4/4 groove, as Trane erects complex harmonic sand castles, toying with time and theme until Tyner's complex blend of rhythm and melody expands upon the tenor saxophone's ideas with grace. The theme to "Nature Boy" is given a lush, atmospheric reading, as Garrison and additional bassist Art Davis create a lovely droning subtext; Trane's conversation with Davis' arco bass is full of yearning and coiled intensity. Finally, Garrison's folkish strumming sets the mood for "Song Of Praise." When Trane, Tyner and Jones finally enter out of tempo, it is with remarkable tenderness, slowly building to a stirring catharsis. It's yet another reminder that Coltrane's greatness wasn't simply predicated on intellectual abstraction and rhythmic intensity, but on the most fundamental of human emotions.
1. Chim Chim Cheree
3. Nature Boy
4. Song Of Praise