Other reviews have laid out the historical context and assessed the sound quality of this double CD issue: the purpose of this commentary is to reconstruct the session and offer some notes on the compositions. First things first: my best guess as to the sequence...
Other reviews have laid out the historical context and assessed the sound quality of this double CD issue: the purpose of this commentary is to reconstruct the session and offer some notes on the compositions.
First things first: my best guess as to the sequence in which the tracks were recorded:
Vilia (master, take 3)
Vilia Ialternate, take 5)
Untitled Original 11383 (master)
Nature Boy (master)
Impressions (alternate, take 1)
Impressions (alternate, take 2)
Impressions (master, take 3)
Impressions (alternate, take 4)
Untitled Original 11386 (master, take 1)
Untitled Original 11386 (alternate, take 2)
Untitled Original 11386 (alternate, take 5)
One Up, One Down (master, take 1)
One Up, One Down (alternate, take 6)
Slow Blues (master)
The “master takes” were selected by the producers for CD 1, which is to say, these are not necessarily Coltrane’s preferred takes – of course, Coltrane did not authorize the release of any of this music.
Unfortunately, Universal (Impulse) did not include a photo of the session logs in the release. Jazzdisco.org lists the track numbers that allowed me to put the compositions into sequence, let’s assume that information is accurate. (The @johncoltrane Instagram did post an image of one of the tape reel boxes and it does confirm the first four track numbers.) Second, assume that the quartet performed all takes in sequence before moving on to another composition: it is certainly conceivable that they could have made a few attempts at (e.g.) “Impressions,” gone on to other material, and then come back to “Impressions.” We haven’t been given any reason to think that, however, so let’s keep it simple.
Vilia: Coltrane plays tenor on the master take, soprano on the alternate
11383: fast blues (Bb minor?) on soprano. After Coltrane and Tyner solo, Garrison takes a couple choruses with the bow before switching back to pizzicato. (This is extremely unusual! Garrison was typically featured in a long solo introduction or cadenza; he almost sounds like Paul Chambers but then he throws in some double-stops that are unmistakably his own.)
Nature Boy: this track fades in on a bass-drum vamp (suggesting that the producers have omitted the beginning of this take)
Impressions: take 1 = approximately 250 bpm, take 2 = approx. 220 bpm, take 3 = approx. 245 bpm, take 4 = approx. 270 bpm
11386: the “head” seems to be a 50-bar AABA form, with the A sections consisting of a 6-bar vamp and 8-bar melody (ending with a 2-bar stop-time phrase reminiscent of “Mr. P.C.”), and the B section being an 8-bar vamp. Then it sounds like they abandon that form and improvise on F Dorian (maybe?), almost entirely in 8-bar phrases. Coltrane solos first on soprano, then Tyner, the theme returns briefly (just two A sections), then Garrison and Jones are briefly featured.
One Up, One Down: not to be confused with “One Down, One Up”! An up-tempo modal composition in F (?).
Slow Blues: in F
That’s it from me, I just wanted to offer some listening notes. As with other Impulse reissues, the producers opted not to publish all the information that could have helped us to really contextualize this music. (Anyone want to take bets on how long it will be before they release a “super deluxe” edition that includes all the break downs and studio chatter?) But I don’t want to repeat myself (look at my review of “Coltrane [Deluxe Edition]” and you’ll see this is an old story).