Sunday, January 29, 2017

Listening to Prestige 238: John Coltrane - Paul Quinichette

In general, I try not to look ahead, but to consider one recording session at a time. This isn't exactly a rule, but it's a general preference, and in this case, it's one that I held to. In my last blog entry, on the Mal Waldron sextet with John Coltrane, I wondered if one could chart the seeds of progress toward the revolutionary changes to come -- Giant Steps, My Favorite Things, A Love Supreme, Ascension. And now, in the very next session, or perhaps a continuation of the same session, since they happened on the same day, Trane is paired with swing giant and Lester Young acolyte Paul Quinichette.

So--is Coltrane moving on a steady course toward a more advanced, avant-garde approach to music? Or how about this for an alternate question -- did Trane ever care about that? In 1961, during his Impulse years, when we was making his most advanced music, he recorded an album of ballads, and two years later, in 1963, he collaborated with Billy Eckstine acolyte Johnny Hartman on another album of standards. Coltrane was one of the most important developers of modal jazz, the definitive break from the improvisation around chord changes that was the hallmark of bebop, but his best known modal album--probably his most popular album of all time--was built around one of schmaltz kings Rodgers and Hammerstein's schmaltziest songs. and if he didn't exactly deliver it in a brown paper package tied up with string, he certainly knew that was where it came from.

In other words, Coltrane moved wherever the spirit moved him, and if it moved him to find a groove with the Vice Pres, that's what he was going to do. And there's no star heirarchy in this session. It's two cats blowing together, and finding that groove, and sharing the experience. Neither of them concede anything stylistically, and neither of them has to--Coltrane with a hard-edged, driving sound, and Quinichette sweeter and gentler. It really does give you a sense of what it would have been like if Trane and Lester Young had ever played together, especially on "Cattin'."

Again, Mal Waldron is called upon to supply most of the music here, with four originals and some wonderful solos--again, especially on "Cattin'."

I should, if I haven't recently, stop and give credit to the anonymous scholars who have created so many Wikipedia pages for individual albums. That's where I get most of my information on composer credits for jazz originals, hard to come by anywhere else on the web.

All the tunes from this session except "Tea for Two" came out on album called Cattin' with Coltrane and Quinichette, which for some reason was delayed a couple of years before release. "Tea for Two," where Quinichette takes the lead, eventually surfaced on the Body and Soul compilation album on Status that seems to have handled a lot of the overflow from other sessions.


 Order Listening to Prestige, Vol. 1 here.

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