Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Review: Andrew Hill - Smoke Stack

Although I love Andrew Hill, I have to concede he wasn't always great...

Andrew Hill’s debut for the Blue Note label, ‘Black Fire’, was a new and unique voice in the jazz world, with powerful Afro-Carribean rhythms carrying some very strong free-sounding hard bop - or at least Hill’s own distinct, unique take on hard bop. His follow-up ‘Smoke Stack’ makes the bold step of stripping those incredible beats and focusing instead on his more intellectual favoured side of the music, with a set comprised entirely of his own composition.

The album ‘Smoke Stack’ then lands dead-in-the-middle between hard bop and free jazz; lacking the sometimes inaccessible dissonance of free, but with lengthy multi-directional improvisations and soft structures, notably more challenging than most bop orientated music. As interesting as it is though, it is not ‘Black Fire’ by a long way and it is definitely a much lesser recording.

A great band, featuring both Richard Davis and Eddie Khan on bass (that’s right, a quartet with two bassists)
 and the legendary Roy Haynes on drums, provide outstanding backing, but for the majority it’s all Hill’s show. Taking the lion’s share of space here, the pianist seems to at times be lacking his usual crystal sharp focus, and meanders for just a bit too long during many sections that become both overly introspective and a little hazy.

Mostly it’s a quietly restrained affair that promises to deliver something great, but then doesn’t quite get there. Like many freer works of the time, it’s one that nessecitates the listener pays close attention to hear the subtle nuances and various layers that can be peeled back to reveal something more every time. However, unlike many of Hill’s works, this session does not really repay the effort. Not to say it’s a bad record, far from it, but the very inward-looking and cerebral stance here provides equal parts interest and frustration. Full of highs, it also comes with long passages of both exhausting and wandering listening, and as such it comes up short. ‘Smoke Stack’ then is disappointingly a merely above average recording from a usually five star artist.


Monday, 21 January 2013

Review: Andrew Hill - Black Fire

Andrew Hill is one of my favourite piano players, not just as a player, and not just as a composer but the whole package - Hill as an exhileratingformer of his own material. His music is an underrated delight - always complex, always involving and sometimes reaching high peaks of emotional intensity. Any of his Blue Note work throughout the 1960's is well worth investigating. And aside from his career peak of 'Point Of Departure' (featuring none other than Eric Dolphy) you can't make a better starting point than his debut as leader - 'Black Fire'.

Andrew Hill was a firm fixture of the Blue Note roster during the sixties, recording a dozen albums as a bandleader as well as contributing his highly personal, distinctive playing and compositional talents to a number of well-renowned artists on the label. Later as part of the free movement, his work was perhaps less austere and more accessible than that of his more well-known contemporary Cecil Taylor, although his determination to play only his own material and do so only as a leader, meant that his opportunities to play live and record would slowly thin out over his life and career.

For his time at Blue Note however, he had a strong asset in the respected label owner and producer Alfred Lion, who both admired and enjoyed the pianists sound, but also later became something of a friend to Hill. Thus despite a perceived lack of great commercial success this meant that Lion was always eager to record and release any of Hill’s sessions, and from as early as his Blue Note debut ‘Black Fire’ you can easily see why the famed producer was so drawn to the then young talent.

The music of Hill is highly original, taking in hard bop, but also rhythms and harmonies not usually heard in most jazz forms at the time, and his restless energy trying to achieve as much as possible, dipping into numerous styles, genres and techniques - all this and very definable melodies in every piece. The strong group too is not bound by any playing constraints of the label hard bop, with Joe Henderson, Richard Davis and Roy Haynes all contributing as much as they can, in tis very different take on the standard template of a saxophone-piano quartet.

Although a quartet outing, on occasion one of the players sits out. Most obviously Joe Henderson’s saxophone is absent from the highly percussive piano trio effort of ‘Subterfuge’, while on ‘McNeil Island’ a very different sound is generated by drummer Haynes staying silent. Perhaps the best thing here though is the brilliant ‘Pumpkin’, featuring one of the most distinctive basslines in modern jazz, while the title track can be best summed up as being a ‘sinister waltz’.

Complex, but not inaccessibly so, the combination of adventurous jazz solos with African sounding rhythms make ‘Black Fire’ an absolute winner, that together with the sheer talent of the four players make it a jazz classic. A great debut and one of the underrated Hill’s very best.


Review: Corea, Clarke & White - Forever

Reuniting in 2008 to both rapturous fan approval and critical acclaim, the biggest and most-loved version of Return To Forever swept the globe selling out concerts and picking up awards by the fistful. However it became clear toward the end of the worldwide tour that that the group was not going to continue on for long with guitarist Al di Meola – he himself having expressed negative thoughts on both the choice of material and the perceived direction they might be taking.

Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White though had no such qualms and very quickly signed up for another tour almost immediately, this time of course as a trio - and more notably, entirely acoustic. RTF Unplugged was of course another massive success and sometime shortly after the trio reconvened in the studio, this time with additional help from original pre-di-Meola Return To Forever guitarist Bill Connors, French jazz violin virtuoso Jean-Luc Ponty and soul diva, and sometime Corea and White associate, Chaka Khan.

‘Forever’ then is a double-disc set capturing the trio live and in full-flight on disc one, and the sextet in a studio rehearsal session before a world tour on disc two. Sadly though Connors had to pull out immediately after this rehearsal due to ill health, and immediately be replaced late in the day by Frank Gambale. There is in truth very little to connect the two discs, such is the vast difference in approach, playing, feel, and simply just the musicians and instrumentation involved. But there is much to love.

The acoustic trio is an absolute winner, with some sterling choice material, taking in choice standards, classic RTF pieces and of course iconic Corea compositions. His early ‘Windows’ gets a welcome airing and the always impressive and catchy ‘Senor Mouse’ still dazzles. A much loved tune recorded many times over, a bad one has yet to see the light of day, and the trio here more than do it justice.

Whilst known for searing muscularity in their approach, the trio compellingly get to show their more sensitive and understated sides, most notably with Bill Evans’ beautiful ‘Waltz For Debby’. Miles Davis popular favourite ‘On Green Dolphin Street’ gets a welcome renewal, and the popular Corea tribute piece ‘Bud Powell’ is exceptional. But perhaps most revelatory is Clarke’s ‘La Cancion de Sofia’ which magnificently highlights the incredible interplay between the three, and of course goes even further still to showing just how strong (and underrated) a double-bassist Clarke really is.

Were this first disc to be available as a single album in its own right, then it would stand as a highly recommended four-star recording, and another glittering jewel in the already golden catalogues of Corea, Clarke and White. Disc two however is quite a different experience. A look perhaps into an alternative universe of ‘what if?’ it has its moments and pleasures, but it also has its distinct downers too.

Hearing Bill Connors attack and tear the pieces up from his one Return album ‘Hymm Of The Seventh Galaxy’ is a great experience, if a somewhat flawed one. Some may continue to argue over who the more soulful player is between Connors and di Meola, but here it is clear that Connors is not as technically proficient as the one-time young upstart. Nor is he as comfortable with the electric Les Paul in his hands as he is with an acoustic guitar. Regardless his playing is raw and gritty, and his sound drips pure testosterone.

Corea’s arsenal of classic keyboards, such as the awesome Fender Rhodes, get a thrilling showcase here, with stunning takes on ‘Senor Mouse’ (again, but then there’s always room for another version), ‘Captain Marvel’ and some brilliant others. Jean-Luc Ponty flexes his muscles nicely too, appearing on five pieces, and sometimes blending superbly with Connors guitar.

The two Chaka Khan numbers however are destined to be unloved by anyone. ‘I Loves You, Porgy’ in particular is astoundingly bad, with a fiery full-throttle attitude from all concerned going everywhere and yet nowhere in a very long and sprawling manner. Khan’s vocals themselves are strong, and to be welcomed, but its clear here that this is a rehearsal, and not a particularly focused or winning one.

Surprisingly then the two best numbers here come as a tacked on bonus to the end of the second disc. An acoustic piano and drum duet between Corea and White lights up John Coltrane’s classic ‘Crescent’, while the early Return To Forever piece ‘500 Miles High’ is given an incredible impassioned performance by the trio from their performance at the 2009 Monterey Jazz Festival.

So, a genuine mixed bag, with a great four-star set filling out one disc, and a messy sprawl littering disc two, that contains some real duds, but at the same time gives us some absolutely sparkling moments not available anywhere else. Where Return To Forever goes now is anybody’s guess.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Review: Keith Jarrett - At The Blue Note: The Complete Recordings

As big a fan as I am of Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, Vijay Iyer, Bill Evans, Bud Powell, and many more, it is Keith Jarrett whose piano sound I find myself craving the most. Why? I'm sure I could write a book, and still not quite put my finger on the exact reasons, but needless to say it is Jarrett's solo, trio and quartet works that reach me the most. In his time too he has issued two bumper six-disc 'complete' sets, one featuring all the solo concerts from a tour in Japan, and this one below, a set showcasing a complete three-night residency at New York's famous Blue Note club.

When reviewing a piano trio of any notable standing, it has become the standard expectation of the reader, almost to the point of cliché, that at some point the reviewer will insert some words of comparison with the classic Bill Evans trio of Evans, Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian. Truly groundbreaking, that superb group redefined the way a trio could play, in just the short few years that they were together. This is especially evident on the live performances they recorded, for most with the universally lauded ‘Complete Village Vanguard Recordings’ set, from which the individual albums ‘Sunday At The Village Vanguard’ and ‘Waltz For Debby’ were also pulled. With no disrespect to those outstanding musicians or recordings intended, that constant source for comparison needs to be toned down, if only through overuse, but also because Keith Jarrett’s trio comprising himself, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, have arguably set a new template.

Having played together since 1983, the ‘At The Blue Note’ box-set documents a three-night residency at the New York venue from June 3rd to the 5th in 1994, with each disc giving us a complete set. Typical of the trio, they ignore the usual dynamics of the bass and drums simply providing rhythm and marking time for the lead of the piano. Instead each of the group, with Jarrett providing the guiding voice, has the freedom to explore whatever avenues are suggested by the tunes. And as such each of the tunes here are presented in many varied ways, with some pieces being played as written (‘When I Fall In Love’), others with stretching out the melody or bridge (‘Things Ain’t What They Used To Be’), and others are completely deconstructed and played in a way never heard before. ‘How Long Has This Been Going On?’ at nine minutes for example never once comes close to stating the melody of the song until it’s pretty much over.

With massive live documents such as this (thirty-eight tracks over six discs in a hefty but sturdy box), you can often expect a good deal of repeated songs – hopefully each time played in a different style or pace. Here though only three pieces are repeated over the six sets, including a very welcome take on Jarrett’s own ‘No More Lonely Nights’, which serves to show us just how perfectly this band can resolutely never play the same piece the same way twice. And even on recorded sound with no visual aid of being there, you can sense the palpable excitement of the players as they push each other further on to their shared goal.

The sound here is truly remarkable too - as indeed are all ECM live recordings. Peacock has never sounded better, with his bass deep and heavy, mixing perfectly with the always impressive cymbal work and here incredibly vibrant playing from DeJohnette. And of course Jarrett sounds pristine, his piano and perfectly light touch never captured badly. Each note is played with a pristine touch and pitch, and the cascading runs feel fluid and beautiful everywhere throughout this set.

And again, as with all live events captured by Manfred Eicher, the audience is there, but not intrusively so; you can feel them and after each song you can hear their appreciative and sometimes rapturous applause, but they never interrupt the music – save one occasion on the first night and set opener ‘In Your Own Sweet Way’, where you can clearly hear a bottle go tumbling from one of the tables.

An outstanding trio, captured crisply in an intimate and world-famous venue, this is high-calibre in every sense of the word. This is a stellar group captured at a then peak of their abilities and their collective telepathy. At six hours and a hefty price tag, it is a lot of music for a lot of money, but you won’t find a better collected document of the three playing together, and to be able to hear every recorded note of a whole residency really is something else. For the newcomer, there are good one and two-disc sets of this group, including a single-disc one-set performance from this box. But for the fan who already owns some of this so dubbed ‘standards trio’, and loves the sound of a piano trio is full swing, this is invaluable. A five-star collection in every way. And the trio's take on Monk's 'Straight, No Chaser' here is absolute class.


Thursday, 17 January 2013

Review: John Coltrane - Om

I've listened to a lot of John Coltrane a lot of the time in the last 15 years. He produced a huge volume of work for someone whose solo career effectively ran for just a mere ten years, and played across so many different styles and changed his own sound so often and so suddenly that for many keeping up at the time was near impossible. Now with his entire recorded works easily available to any listener, nothing has changed, and his multiple different sounds can to many still be as alienating as they always had the potential to do. Case in point, my least favourite Coltrane, 'Om'...
Issued in 1965, Coltrane’s ‘Ascension’ was another stunning yet forceful, almost to the point of blunt trauma, innovation in his constantly accelerating career, that again gained solid critical notices – as well as for the nth time dividing fans who struggled to keep up. ‘Om’, recorded soon after in the same year, but suffering the fate of being delayed for release until a year after Coltrane’s death in ‘68, is more often than not set upon as being his worst album; an opinion which, even with the benefit of hindsight, is still very much agreed upon.

In truth, this negative opinion does stem from as much as being a genuinely lesser effort as it does from a poor comparison to the record (and records) that preceeded it, but it is not completely without its strengths. It does in truth fare very badly if taken with ‘Ascension’ as, despite the seemingly assault-like feeling of Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders on that recording, there were some incredible contributions from many fine musicians, including the classic quartet members McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones, as well as the swaggeringly muscular playing of Indianapolis golden boy Freddie Hubbard.

Here though the majority of the seven-piece band is near-utterly buried in the cacophony of competing noise, with the usually excellent Jones and his much-touted polyrhythmic sound swamped, and Tyner disappointingly not given any real space to shine at all – save one tiny piercing moment of light that manages to shine through. Garrison too doesn’t really get any time to himself, and frankly he is so anonymous here, it could really be anyone playing bass.

Similarly guest bass clarinetist Donald Rafael Garrett is clearly no Eric Dolphy (who passed away a year earlier in 1964) and doesn’t really offer anything of note, and Joe Brazil’s flute gives the recording some interesting colour, but ultimately does very little. Sometimes ‘Trane himself manages to break out from the sonic wall of noise and deliver some occasionally strong themes that sound reminiscent of his earlier and more obviously spiritual work – easily denouncing the unsubstantiated rumours that JC and the band were on LSD when this was recorded - but ultimately far too little.

‘Om’ sounds like a combined and forced expression of energy, but with all the energy all at once and without any particular guiding voice to lead or focus the chaos. Aiming for passion and emotional yearning, there is some music of note here, but the flow is disjointed and too much of an attempt at being ‘spiritual and in the moment’ leads instead to merely loud and unguided.

True, it probably shouldn’t have been one of the first posthumous releases, especially given the sheer quality of some of the sessions that came out over the next thirty years, but it doesn’t deserve quite the critical roasting it usually receives. Yes it opens and reveals smaller charms over its mere thirty minutes, and with repeated listens, but it really is only for the truly dedicated ‘Trane-heads or anyone academically studying the development of free-jazz. For anyone but the cult few though, the best moment really is going to be the moment it ends.

Hell, even the artwork is terrible.


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Review: John Coltrane - Ole

Time for another 'lesser-known' 'Trane effort. This is one of my absolute favourites. One more review of Coltrane after this, and one I distinctly do not like...

John Coltrane's time first at Atlantic and then with Impulse yielded a staggeringly impressive amount of recordings, not to mention the sheer quality of each. There was too a fair share of overlap in both his labels contracts too, meaning that when 'Ole' (also sometimes referred to as 'Ole Coltrane') hit the record stores, 'Trane's debut for Impulse, 'Africa/Brass', had in fact just been released the year before. Not though that this was any backwards-looking, vault-digging, barrel-scraping release - far from it in fact.

The double bass opening to the title track is a wonderfully atmospheric acoustic-funk before there was funk intro that quickly ushers in some highly rhythmic Spanish piano courtesy of the then still underrated McCoy Tyner, and it is these two instruments (although technically three, with bass duties handled by both Art Davis and Reggie Workman) that create the strong setting, with just a flavour of the similarly themed 'Sketches Of Spain' by former Coltrane employer Miles Davis.

Featuring some inspired improvisational work from second saxman and occasional flautist 'George Lane' (actually Eric Dolphy who was not officially credited, due to being on the Prestige label at the time) and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard (who is credited, with thanks given to Blue Note), as well as some skilled bass work. It is though fully Tyner's moment, anchoring the whole piece with flair and soul, and then cutting loose for some of the very best soloing here and of his career.

Vibrant, complex and seductively rhythmic, the rest of the album has a lot to live up to following this epic eighteen-minute introduction. 'Dahomey Dance' then does not disappoint, except on pulling back on the more overt Spanish sound and allowing drummer Elvin Jones more room to show his considerable muscle, whereas 'Aisha' is a slow and wistful ballad that yearningly haunts from the speakers. More than just one of Tyner's very finest compositions, it is arguably one of, if not the, finest of the collaborations between Coltrane and Tyner. Hubbard and 'Lane' though both ensure that their time in the spotlight is not wasted.

Not perhaps one of John Coltrane’s most famous of albums, it is one of his most engaging and consistent listens that should at least be considered up there close to 'My Favourite Things' – certainly it's one of the easiest to sink into. And as a bonus, many newer editions now end with the original 'Ole' sessions out-take 'Original Untitled Ballad (To Her Ladyship)'. This is simply classic and out-standing music from ‘Trane.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Review: John Coltrane - Ballads

I love John Coltrane. You'll probably tell this by the slew of reviews that will be posted up shortly. Here's one for the under-appreciated 'Ballads'.

John Coltrane is arguably one of the most famous and most influential jazz players, responsible for and at the forefront of some of the most important movements in the modern jazz world – his impeccable work with the Miles Davis Quintet, 'Kind Of Blue', 'Giant Steps', 'My Favourite Things', his so-called 'sheets of sound' approach to playing, his later spiritual work, and, as the ultimate divider, his complete immersion in the free and avant-garde world in his final few years.

As such there are a handful of works that sharply divide his fan-base, most obviously his later recordings which feature some heavy sounds indeed for some. Notably these come near hand-in-hand with 'Ascension' – it often attracting equal parts praise and criticism, for the 'spiritual' and 'impassioned' playing, and for the screeching blasts of fellow tenor Pharoah Sanders and the near cacophonous sound that can be generated by a band of between six and twelve players working in the 'free' idiom.

'Ballads' then gets the near-same level of criticism from some, but for the opposite reason. Still relatively fresh into his new contract with the still young Impulse Records (and returning from Europe to hostile critics dubbing him and friend Eric Dolphy ‘anti-jazz’), Coltrane recorded an album of slow-to-mid-tempo love songs. Subsequently many saw this as a compromise with the label in order to placate the critics who had complained of the overly-complicated playing, too many notes and far too much experimentation. Thus we get complaints of easy-listening, a 'one for the label, one for the artist' mentality, and even a session the man didn't want to make or participate in.

All this though simply just gets in the way of what is effectively one of John Coltrane's most easily enjoyable and certainly most accessible works. 'You Don't Know What Love Is', 'All Or Nothing At All' and 'It's Easy To Remember' are superbly handled here, with eight songs covered in total, a direct contrast to 'Trane's usual short number of considerably more lengthy numbers. Each is lushly caressed, with the saxophonist taking a more relaxed and subtle role, and instead allowing the great McCoy Tyner's piano to shine. And shine he does, with some gorgeous beauty revealing itself over some aching melodies and shimmering key work. Tyner plays very inwardly and, understanding the pull and allure of these classic tunes, even predictably - but excitingly and yearningly so.

True, it's the lighter and less aggressive side of 'Trane, but that doesn't have to be taken as a slight on the qualities of the music contained herein, offering us as it does the quieter and perhaps more obviously beautiful side of the man, and really showing what his quartet can do when in a more soft or subdued mood. Warmer and more instantly rewarding than some of his undoubtedly better, more 'classic' work, it would also form the basis of the more accessible Coltrane on Impulse, alongside the excellent collaborative effort with Duke Ellington and of course the classic 'John Coltrane And Johnny Hartman'. Beautiful, gorgeous and showcasing to winning effect another side of the legend, 'Ballads' is not quite an essential Coltrane entry, but it is a great one.


Sunday, 6 January 2013

Review: John Coltrane - Live At The Village Vanguard & ...Again

This weekend has been one long John Coltrane mix playlist, and consequently a series of new reviews and some older re-edits. Some of my favourite listening has been with the live 'Trane releases, and so I've decided to post up a two-fer - 'Live At The Village Vanguard', and the later on '...Again'. Here goes.

For four nights at the start of November in 1961, John Coltrane and his quartet famously played the Village Vanguard, with both some significant guest friends on stage, as well some decidedly unwelcome 'purist' critics in the audience. Aside from his usual group of pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones, alternating rhythm players Reggie Workman and Roy Haynes on bass and drums respectively also joined in, as did saxophonist and multi-reedsman Eric Dolphy, oboist Garvin Bushell and even famed oud man Ahmed Abdul-Malik. Together this grouping played something really quite special.

'Live At The Village Vanguard' then gives us three choice numbers from those four nights, with only nine different songs being played in various forms over the entirety of the bands short residency, and each of the band uniquely influencing the direction and sound of each piece. Indeed, the selected take on 'Spiritual', here as set opener, is impressive as much for its musical content as it is for its outstanding contributions from Bushell – a man who though never made a huge name for himself in the jazz field, worked with some of the fields greatest, including Fletcher Henderson, Gil Evans, Bunk Johnson, Fats Waller and Cab Calloway.

If anything though, the most notable presence here is that of oud Abdul-Malik (most famous perhaps for his tenure playing bass with Thelonious Monk, and with whom Abdul-Malik played in a quartet alongside Coltrane). Together they offer a distinct and strong middle-eastern sound that sits well with Coltrane's own leanings and stylings, and in fact shows another very different, and promising, potential future direction that the saxophonist might have taken, if given more time.

The big defining moment here however is the relatively stripped down ‘Chasin’ The Trane’ – so named by Coltrane’s engineer Rudy Van Gelder who literally had to chase ‘Trane around stage with a microphone due to his furious and highly mobile workout while playing. Effectively drawing battle-lines for critics and fans (not for the first time and certainly not for the last), here we have just bass and drums providing a steady pulse, with an intense blues blow-out from Coltrane that ultimately pushed boundaries a little too far for many tastes. ‘Chasin’’ lead to a series of near-damning reviews and articles, most of which Coltrane missed due to being out of the country and on tour in Europe. Upon returning he was stunned by what he read and heard and ultimately he and Eric Dolphy felt it necessary to reply to their critics in print. An undeniably powerful listen, it demands your attention, if only to hear what created such anger on its initial airing.

A nice live ‘sample’ document, at the time it surely served its purpose with aplomb, but it should however be noted that it has been easily supplanted by the four disc complete box set of all four sets recorded at the Vanguard. This set contains just a mere three tracks from an overall selection of twenty-two in total, and while many of those twenty-two are duplicate pieces, there is a huge difference in the way that they are played each and every time. The single disc then is the first port of call for the uninitiated, with the box set being there for those who want or crave more.

Impeccable music, with a strong spiritual and searching bent, its impact today may be somewhat less than it was in its original day, with 'Trane not for the last time splitting the critics, and even leading some notoriously to brand the album and its players as 'anti-jazz', but musically it has lost none of its power or charm, and along with 'Live At Birdland' should be heard at least once by any half-interested jazz fan.



After helping create a pantheon of greats that had released a 'Live At The Village Vanguard' album – Sonny Rollins and Bill Evans before him, and many more after - John Coltrane decided to repeat the success. This time though he decided to do it with his new 'free' quintet consisting of wife and pianist Alice Coltrane, long-timebassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Rashied Ali, and both the man himself and Pharoah Sanders on tenor saxophone.

However whereas 'Trane and his classic quartet of McCoy Tyner, Garrison and Elvin Jones had famously previously struck gold, with both the single LP, and the later released complete concerts, '...Again' is a justifiably much less famous, and much lesser, effort.

Like the earlier release there are only three track selections here (albeit one is effectively an elongated intro) but the numbers here are as usual extended ruminations on more familiar recordings, in this case two of Coltrane's most famous pieces – his signature take on Rodgers & Hammersteins 'My Favourite Things' and his own 'Naima'.

Despite the potentially enticing presence of these undisputable classic greats though, the resulting music is distinctly disappointing. The main man is passionate and plays with great feeling – indeed his playing on both numbers is arguably his best – but where he lends the necessary beauty to his gorgeous ballad, Sanders screeches and screams his way over the top in an effort to be emotional, and instead ruins everything else going on.

Not that there is that much going on; besides Coltrane's own excellent playing, and Sanders over-blowing, the rest of the band appear to be distinctly 'off'. You'd never guess these were to-be-envied professionals, unless you were told of their names and past achievements, with the three players largely just walking and lightly vamping behind the frontline and rarely stepping forward.

For 'Trane die-hards then, this is great, showcasing as it does his immense skill and feel for the music, but ultimately its release is a mistake of quite vast proportions, with the band sounding flat and uninspired, and most listeners will simply just wish that a quartet missing Sanders had played that night. Really, this is only one for the dedicated fan, and anyone else would do well to give it a miss entirely.