- This wonderful compilation double album finally arrives on the site with THREE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side four
- Tubier, more transparent, more dynamic, with plenty of that “jumpin’ out of the speakers” quality that only The Real Thing (an old record) ever has – thanks RVG!
- A compilation of two superb, previously released albums, John Coltrane with The Red Garland Trio (aka Traneing In), and Soultrane
- 4 stars: “The absence of any unessential instrumentalists encourages a decidedly concerted focus from Coltrane, who plays with equal measures of confidence and freedom.”
These vintage Prestige pressings have the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
Old and New
This reissue is spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the ’70s. We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 40+ years ago, not the generally airless, opaque, veiled and compress mastering so common today.
The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on both of these superb sides.
We were impressed with the fact that these pressings excel in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it — odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us — was just how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be if you have the right pressing.
This leads me to think that most of the natural, full-bodied, lively, clear, rich sound of the recording was still on the tape decades later, and that all that was needed to get that vintage sound on to a record was simply to thread up the tape on the right machine and hit play. The fact that practically nobody seems to be able to make a record nowadays that sounds remotely this good tells me that I’m wrong to think that such an approach tends to work, if our experience with hundreds of mediocre Heavy Vinyl reissues is relevant.
What the Best Sides of John Coltrane 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 1972
- 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.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
What We’re Listening For on Coltrane
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- 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.
You Leave Me Breathless
Soft Lights And Sweet Music
I Want To Talk About You
You Say You Care
Theme From Ernie
AMG 4 Star Review of John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio (Sides One and Two)
For his second long player, John Coltrane (tenor saxophone) joined forces with his Prestige labelmate Red Garland (piano) to command a quartet through a five song outing supported by a rhythm section of Paul Chambers (bass) and Art Taylor (drums). The absence of any unessential instrumentalists encourages a decidedly concerted focus from Coltrane, who plays with equal measures of confidence and freedom.
The Coltrane original “Traneing In” is a rousing blues that exemplifies the musical singularity between Coltrane and Garland. Even though the pianist takes charge from the start, the structure of the arrangement permits the tenor to construct his solo seamlessly out of Garland’s while incrementally increasing in intensity, yet never losing the song’s underlying swinging bop. Chambers then gets in on the action with an effervescent run that quotes the seasonal favorite “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”
The poignant “Slow Dance” is a dark ballad with a simple, refined tune that is established by Coltrane. He turns things over to Chambers, and then Garland — whose respective style and grace are virtually indescribable — before bringing it home with one final verse. “Bass Blues” is the second Coltrane-penned selection on the album. Right from the tricky opening riff, the slightly asymmetrical melody showcases Chambers’ ability to mirror even the most intricate or seemingly improvised lines from Coltrane. The mid-tempo pace is a springboard for the tenor’s spontaneous inventions as he interfaces with a rollicking and ready Garland alongside Chambers’ unfettered bowing.
“You Leave Me Breathless” provides everything that a love song should with long, languid runs by Coltrane, Garland, and what is arguably Paul Chambers at his absolute finest. Few passages can match the grace and stately refinement of the bassist as he pilots the proceedings behind Taylor’s steady metronome and Garland’s luminous, effective comps. John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio (1957) draws to a close on the bebop lover’s dream, a fast and furious interpretation of the Irving Berlin classic “Soft Lights and Sweet Music.” Clearly Coltrane excels within this context, laying down his note clusters more rapidly than the listener can actually absorb them.
These are clear demarcations pointing toward the remarkable sonic advancements Coltrane was espousing. And although it would be a few years before he’d make the leap into full-blown free jazz, the roots can clearly be traced back here.
AMG 4 Star Review of Soultrane (Sides Three and Four)
In addition to being bandmates within Miles Davis’ mid-’50s quintet, John Coltrane (tenor sax) and Red Garland (piano) head up a session featuring members from a concurrent version of the Red Garland Trio: Paul Chambers (bass) and Art Taylor (drums).
This was the second date to feature the core of this band. A month earlier, several sides were cut that would end up on Coltrane’s Lush Life album. Soultrane offers a sampling of performance styles and settings from Coltrane and crew. As with a majority of his Prestige sessions, there is a breakneck-tempo bop cover (in this case an absolute reworking of Irving Berlin’s “Russian Lullaby”), a few smoldering ballads (such as “I Want to Talk About You” and “Theme for Ernie”), as well as a mid-tempo romp (“Good Bait”). Each of these sonic textures displays a different facet of not only the musical kinship between Coltrane and Garland but in the relationship that Coltrane has with the music.
The bop-heavy solos that inform “Good Bait,” as well as the “sheets of sound” technique that was named for the fury in Coltrane’s solos on the rendition of “Russian Lullaby” found here, contain the same intensity as the more languid and considerate phrasings displayed particularly well on “I Want to Talk About You.” As time will reveal, this sort of manic contrast would become a significant attribute of Coltrane’s unpredictable performance style.
Not indicative of the quality of this set is the observation that, because of the astounding Coltrane solo works that both precede and follow Soultrane — most notably Lush Life and Blue Train — the album has perhaps not been given the exclusive attention it so deserves.