Full performer name: John Coltrane/Bobby Jaspar/Idrees Sulieman/Webster Young.
Personnel: John Coltrane, Bobby Jaspar (tenor saxophone); Idrees Sulieman, Webster Young (trumpet); Mal Waldron, Red Garland (piano); Kenny Burrell (guitar); Paul Chambers (bass); Art Taylor (drums).
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey on March 22, 1957. Originally released on Prestige (7112). Includes liner notes by Ira Gitler.
Digitally remastered by Phil De Lancie (1992, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
This March 22, 1957 date is a variation on the time-honored blowing format producer Bob Weinstock shoe-horned John Coltrane into at the beginning of his Prestige recording contract. Coltrane had already garnered a variety of notices for his work with the Miles Davis Quintet, a body of work which was marked by his ever-expanding rhythmic and harmonic complexity, and melodic daring.
INTERPLAY FOR 2 TRUMPETS AND 2 TENORS was presumably meant to ingratiate itself into the listening booths of more mainstream listeners, proving that the tenor virtuoso was in no way out of touch or incompatible with more traditional values. One of the most striking elements about the opening cut "Interplay" is the fat ensemble sound of dual tenors and trumpets, and the apparent influence Coltrane was already wielding over his contemporaries. Given a superficial listening, Jaspar's tone and attack suggest the Coltrane method, and Trane's rhythmic restraint only lends to the bluesy ambiguity.
Pianist Mal Waldron really shines on INTERPLAY--as a composer, soloist and accompanist. He provides the conceptual glue that holds things together over the course of multiple choruses. Waldron was Billie Holiday's accompanist, and his sense of the appropriate is quite apparent behind Trane on "Anatomy." Waldron allows the action to come to him, never crowding the saxophonist, letting bassist Chambers and drummer Taylor carry the beat, as his rhythmic accents and voice leading keep the tune in everyone's mind. On "Light Blue" he combines with guitarist Burrell to create a funky understated Basie groove, setting up the guitarist's solo with cool, sanctified ballad vehicle for Coltrane. Jimmy Heath's classic line "C.T.A." closes out the date with a jaunty, full-throttle Coltrane solo, as the tenorist slices and dices effortlessly through the changes.