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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Standard Coltrane

Prestige 0888072312210



1. Don't Take Your Love From Me
2. I'll Get By
3. Spring is Here
4. Invitation
John Coltrane - Tenor sax
Wilbur Harden - Trumpet
Red Garland - Piano
Paul Chambers - Bass
Jimmy Cobb - Drums

This is a straightforward reissue of an album recorded in July 1958. Rudy Van Gelder, the original recording engineer from that session, has remastered the album. With only four tracks lasting a total of less than 35 minutes, one might wonder why it was not packaged with another album, especially as it does not appear to be available at budget price.  At any rate, this CD gives a good impression of what stage Coltrane was at in 1958.

This was a time when Coltrane - along with Red Garland and Paul Chambers - was working with Miles Davis. Recording as a leader freed Coltrane from some of the constraints he may have felt under Miles, but on this album he was still constrained by performing jazz standards, albeit tunes that were not particularly hackneyed. On the two fastish numbers (I'll Get By and Spring is Here), you can sense Coltrane tugging at the form: seeking some extra freedom which he had not yet fully discovered.

The album opens with a ballad - Don't Take Your Love From Me - which illustrates two of Coltrane's tendencies at this period: repeating particular passages (especially an upwards arpeggio) and hinting at double time in his solo. This may make the listener wonder what was so special about Coltrane. At this stage in his development, he was a facile but hardly great improviser. The most distinctive thing about him is his rather hard tone, which was widely imitated by subsequent tenorists. Trumpeter Wilbur Harden sounds somewhat more at ease in his solo, which is thoughtful and measured, with a furry tone.

The tempo quickens for I'll Get By, where we get hints of the "sheets of sound" which were to become one of Coltrane's hallmarks. Again, the trumpeter steps more warily in his solo, and pianist Red Garland shapes his contribution carefully. Tenor and trumpet play the theme of Spring is Here in unison, after which you can hear Coltrane striving for more freedom in his solo. One fault of this album is the predictability of the format, with tenor, trumpet and piano usually soloing in the same order on each tune. This track at least adds a bass solo after the pianist has had his say.

The album ends with another ballad- Bronislaw Kaper's Invitation - with nicely mobile bass from Paul Chambers and an emotional contribution from Coltrane. Yet he stays fairly close to the melody, decorating it rather than transforming it.

All in all, this CD may be useful in charting the tenorist's journey towards his more innovative approach but, if you consider it as a session on its own, it is hardly more remarkable than many other blowing sessions. The people who elevate John Coltrane to almost godlike status are in danger of overestimating each stage in his development.
Tony Augarde





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