John Coltrane – My Favorite Things

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  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this 1961 Coltrane classic
  • You’ll also find dramatically more richness, fullness and presence than most copies have to offer
  • An exceptionally difficult album to find with top quality sound and decent surfaces, but here one is!
  • 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.”

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 (WTLF)

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.)

Two Exceptionally Good Sounding Sides

What both sides of this pressing 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 of this stellar jazz combo 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 describe above, and for that you will need to take this copy of the record home and throw it on your table.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

My Favorite Things 
Everytime We Say Goodbye

Side Two

Summertime
But Not For Me

AMG Review

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.