Issued to coinide with the 90th Anniversary of the birth of John Coltrane, Acrobat's public domain 4-CD small box "Trane 90," provides a brief survey of the bulk of John Coltrane's astonishing musical career. It doesn't fully cover Coltrane's career because of changes in copyright law in Europe made the original studio recording of "My Favorite Things" (issued in the UK 1964), along with "A Love Supreme" and his last (free jazz) recordings including "Interstellar Space," unavailable.
I trust most of those reading this will be aware of a fair amount of Coltrane's recordings, so a brief summary describing each disc will probably be most helpful. Disc 1 is subtitled "Stablemates - Coltrane the Sideman" and includes Coltrane as a member of assorted Miles Davis groups along with a couple of performances with Thelonious Monk. Included in the selections on this disc includes "Stablemates," the composition by Coltrane's close friend Benny Golson, with Miles and other selections with Miles include Stan Getz's "Dear Old Stockholm," Monk's "Straight No Chaser," "So What" from "Kind of Blue," and a live performance of "On Green Dolphin Street," along with "Monk's Mood" and "Trinkle Tinkle" with Monk himself.
Disc 2 is titled "Straight Street - Coltrane the Leader" and opens with "Straight Street" from an early Prestige date, followed by "Moment's Notice" from his Blue Note album "Blue Train" with a terrific band that included Lee Morgan, Curtis Fuller, Kenny Drew, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. Other noteworthy tracks include "Giant Steps,""Naima," and "Blues For Bechet," in which we see the evolution of Coltrane's quartet (except Steve Davis is on bass on this last number). This disc concludes with the lengthy "Africa" with the classic quartet with orchestra and the spectacular live "Chasin' the Trane" that is almost a duet with drummer Jones.
Disc 3 is "Just Friends - Coltrane Collaborations" and opens with his guest appearance on Sonny Rollins' "Tenor Madness." Noteworthy here is Tadd Dameron's "Soultrane" from a Dameron led prestige date, "Two Bass Hit" from a Red Garland recording, his participation in a George Russell Orchestra date that produced "Manhattan," playing on a Cecil Taylor date for "Just Friends," A session with Milt Jackson that produced "Bags & Trane," and his own "Grand Central," from a Cannonball Adderly session with Miles Davis' then rhythm section.
Disc 4, the final disc is titled "Impressions - Coltrane broadcasts and private tapes," has some fascinating selections starting with Trane with Dizzy Gillespie and Johnny Hodges, then a performance with Miles that was on the Tonight show hosted by Steve Allen in 1955 and another with Miles in 1956 from Philadelphia. The disc and the music closes with classic Coltrane performances of "My Favorite Things" from Newport, "Impressions" from Finland and "Body and Soul," from Birdland in 1962.
As an be seen, there is a generous amount of Coltrane, including some material that most may not be familiar with (thinking about the early live performances on Disc 4). In addition to the four hours and 45 minutes of music, the set comes with a booklet with a fascinating essay by Simon Spillett that discusses Coltrane's legacy, the controversies his music generated and the veneration he still hold over us today. This is very reasonably priced and likely would make a wonderful gift (or stocking stuffer) for a novice jazz listener.
I received from Clint Weiler at MVD Entertainment and this was published in the 2016 Jazz & Blues Report Megal Gift Guide that can be found at jazz-blues.com.