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John Coltrane: Coltrane Time

Album Notes

COLTRANE TIME was originally released on United Artists in 1959 as a Cecil Taylor album, STEREO DRIVE. It was re-released as John Coltrane's COLTRANE TIME in 1962.

Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); Kenny Dorham (trumpet); Cecil Taylor (piano); Chuck Israels (bass); Louis Hayes (drums).

Producer: Tom Wilson.

Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.

Recorded in New York, New York on October 13, 1958. Includes liner notes by Robert Levin.

Although this 1958 session was led by Cecil Taylor not Coltrane, it's curious to see how much of a stranger the pianist seems on his own date. Surprisingly, it's bassist Chuck Israels who seems most disposed to confront Taylor on his home ground, without leaving his bebop buddies--groove merchant Louis Hayes and classic bebop trumpeter Kenny Dorham--hanging in the wind.

Its interesting to hear how Coltrane adapts to Taylor's antiphonal rhythmic displacements and chordal vivisections tune by tune. On Dorham's "Shifting Down," a traditional blues design with echoes of "Walkin'," Taylor dismantles the changes like some odd polytonal spawn of Arnold Schoenberg and Monk, feeding the soloists new sets of variations rather than outlining conventional harmonic backgrounds. Like Dorham, Coltrane chooses to parallel Taylor's atonal suggestions rather than follow them; so temperamentally they never quite lock, but the tension between their blues-based tonality and Taylor's 20th century harmonies is intriguing.

They cast about for common ground on the remaining tunes, as their hesitant accommodations yield varying degrees of heat and cool. Dorham kicks off "Just Friends" at a jaunty pace, and Taylor enters in a Horace Silverish mood, sustaining the rhythmic drive behind Dorham and Coltrane's solos. The pianist abstracts the changes to "Like Someone In Love" in studied contrast to the lush tempo, as Dorham finally allows Taylor's chords to spill over into his own solo, and Coltrane suspends his voicings so that he isn't always resolving on the tonic and the strong beat. The contrapuntal "Double Clutching" suggests Bird's own two-part melody "Au-Leu-Cha," and Taylor responds with ravishing block chords and lyrical asides, very much in the manner of early Dave Brubeck.


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