Friday, July 01, 2011

John Coltrane Quintet - Music at Newport, Newport, RI, July 1, 1961

Within a roughly ten day period in May and June 1961, John Coltrane recorded both his first record for Impulse! (Africa/Brass) and his last for Atlantic (Olé Coltrane). That was it for studio work that year until late December, when he put down the first tracks for what would ultimately become 1962's Ballads. For Coltrane, 1961 was a year of playing live and of rapid transition, as his music really began to open up, especially during the celebrated fall tour of Europe and landmark run of shows thereafter at the Village Vanguard in New York.

In 1961 there was no Newport Jazz Festival owing to rowdy crowds at the previous year's installment. In its place some local businessmen staged a "Music at Newport" event that did, in fact, feature many jazz acts. That show is what we are concerned with here.

There is a great, low-generation soundboard recording of the show available online. The collector who transferred this music from tape to digital did not do any sound processing but with a little EQ fiddling (bass boosting primarily) you can produce an incredible sounding recording.

This show is of the era when Coltrane was experimenting with two bass players and the line up of his Quintet for this show was: John Coltrane: tenor and soprano saxophone; McCoy Tyner: piano; Art Davis: bass; Reggie Workman: bass; Elvin Jones: drums.

It is not clear if the surviving tracks constitute the entire program. The recordings include an introduction from the stage announcer, "Impressions", "Naima" and "My Favorite Things".

This show is an important one as it really is different in style and repertoire from what Coltrane was doing barely six months prior. This was the beginning of the critically-maligned, "controversial" Coltrane that the world has since come to know and love.

John Coltrane Quintet - Music at Newport, Newport, RI, July 1, 1961

Click on the thumbnail images in this post for real-size cover art (front cover by Simmdale and back by laryddave).