Wednesday, May 25, 2011

John Coltrane - Olé Coltrane

Olé Coltrane was John Coltrane's final record for Atlantic. Better said, it was the final record that came out with his input and authorization. As touched on in recent posts here, Atlantic went back to the Coltrane well several times in the years and decades after his death. They released an inordinate amount of (very good) music given how few actual dates he recorded for the label.

Interestingly, Olé Coltrane was recorded two days after his first sessions for Impulse!, the ones that yielded the Africa/Brass material. The music could not have been more different.

Coltrane brought a smaller group to the Olé sessions: Coltrane on alto and soprano saxophone; McCoy Tyner on piano; Elvin Jones on drums; Art Davis and Reggie Workman on bass; Eric Dolphy on flute and sax and Freddie Hubbard on trumpet.

There were only three tracks on the original issue, the side-spanning title track, Coltrane's own "Dahomey Dance" and a McCoy Tyner composition, "Aisha". The 2000 reissue includes the Billy Frazier piece, "Original Untitled Ballad (To Her Ladyship)."

"Olé" suffers a bit from the length imposed on it; the track comes off the rails a bit as it approaches the 18-minute mark. It might be fair to conclude that Coltrane had already recognized that Impulse! would be a more welcoming home for what he wanted to do and did not want to devote too many of his compositions to this record (which could also be the reason for the inclusion of the Frazier and Tyner tracks on the date).

1961 was a phenomenal year of growth for Coltrane and his bandmates. In that context, Olé Coltrane is deserving of a place in any jazz library. Not essential but not too bad for a contractual obligation record.

John Coltrane - Olé Coltrane