- You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this 1961 Coltrane classic – exceptionally QUIET vinyl too
- There is more richness, fullness and presence on this pressing than other copies offer, and that’s especially true for whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently being foisted on an unsuspecting public
- With McCoy Tyner on piano, Steve Davis on bass and Elvin Jones on the drums, this is a group that can do no wrong with standards of this caliber
- 5 stars: “The unforced, practically casual soloing styles of the assembled quartet allow for tastefully executed passages a la the Miles Davis Quintet, a trait Coltrane no doubt honed during his tenure in that band. Each track of this album is a joy to revisit.”
An album like this is all about its Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1961 All Tube Analog sound can be — thanks go to legendary engineers Phil Lehle and Tom Dowd — this excellent copy should be just the record for you.
The best pressings are spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is wonderful – vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.
This is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. Someday there may well be a CD of this album, but those of us in possession of a working turntable couldn’t care less.
What to Listen For
A solid, full-bodied, clear and powerful piano. As we focused in on the sound of the instrument, we couldn’t help but notice how brilliant McCoy Tyner is. This may be John Coltrane’s album, but Tyner’s contribution is critically important to the success of My Favorite Things.
(We rarely care much for Tyner as a leader, which is why you see so few of his albums on the site. Most of his Milestone recordings are terrible, so caveat emptor on those especially.)
The engineering duties were handled by Tom Dowd (whose work you surely know well) and Phil Iehle, who happens to be the man who recorded some of Coltrane’s most iconic albums for Atlantic: Giant Steps (1960) and Coltrane Jazz (also in 1961).
Phil Iehle also helped engineer Buffalo Springfield’s Last Time Around, as well as albums by Mose Allison, Jerry Jeff Walker, Charles Mingus, the MJQ, Herbie Mann, Eddie Harris, Hank Crawford and dozens of others. Staff engineer at Atlantic? That’s my guess. But a supremely talented one nonetheless.
What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1961
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We’re Listening For on My Favorite Things
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — the two mentioned above — would have put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
My Favorite Things
Everytime We Say Goodbye
But Not For Me
It is easy to understand the appeal that these sides continue to hold. The unforced, practically casual soloing styles of the assembled quartet — which includes Coltrane (soprano/tenor sax), McCoy Tyner (piano), Steve Davis (bass), and Elvin Jones (drums) — allow for tastefully executed passages a la the Miles Davis Quintet, a trait Coltrane no doubt honed during his tenure in that band. Each track of this album is a joy to revisit.
Wikipedia on My Favorite Things
My Favorite Things is the seventh album by jazz musician John Coltrane, released in 1961 on Atlantic Records, catalog SD-1361. It was the first album to feature Coltrane’s playing on soprano saxophone, and yielded a commercial breakthrough in the form of a hit single that gained popularity in 1961 on radio, an edited version of the title song, “My Favorite Things.” In 1998, the album was a recipient of the Grammy Hall of Fame award.
In March 1960, while on tour in Europe, Miles Davis purchased a soprano saxophone for Coltrane. The instrument had become little used in jazz at that time. Intrigued by its capabilities, Coltrane began playing it at his summer club dates. He would continue to use the soprano sax in the future.
After leaving the Davis band, for his first regular bookings starting at New York’s Jazz Gallery club in the summer of 1960 Coltrane assembled the first version of John Coltrane Quartet, the line-up settling to McCoy Tyner on piano, Steve Davis on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums by the fall. Sessions the week before Halloween at Atlantic Studios yielded the track “Village Blues” for Coltrane Jazz and the entirety of this album, along with the tracks that Atlantic would later assemble into Coltrane Plays the Blues and Coltrane’s Sound.
Released a mere month after Coltrane Jazz, unlike his first two albums for Atlantic, this one contains no original compositions, instead jazz versions of four pop standards. The album was also the first to quite clearly mark Coltrane’s change from bebop to modal jazz, which was slowly becoming apparent in some of his previous releases.
The famous track is a modal rendition of the Rodgers and Hammerstein song “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. The melody is heard numerous times throughout, but instead of having a solo over the written chord changes, both Tyner and Coltrane taking extended solos over vamps of the two tonic chords, E minor and E major, played in waltz time In the documentary The World According to John Coltrane, narrator Ed Wheeler remarks on the difference the popularity this song had on Coltrane’s career:
In 1960, Coltrane left Miles [Davis] and formed his own quartet to further explore modal playing, freer directions, and a growing Indian influence. They transformed “My Favorite Things”, the cheerful populist song from ‘The Sound of Music,’ into a hypnotic eastern dervish dance. The recording was a hit and became Coltrane’s most requested tune—and a bridge to broad public acceptance.
The standard “Summertime” is notable for its upbeat, searching feel, a demonstration of Coltrane’s “sheets of sound,” a stark antithesis to Miles Davis’ melancholy, lyrical version on Porgy and Bess, and makes use of offbeat pedal points and augmented chords. “But Not For Me” is reharmonised using the famous Coltrane changes, and features an extended coda over a repeated ii-V-I-vi progression.