Since most (if not all) of the master tapes from legit Impulse! recording sessions have been released, the label continued on with a "digging in the crates" approach to expanding their John Coltrane catalog. Subsequently, they came across this recording that 'Trane arranged to record without the assistance (or interference) of Impulse!. Olatunji Concert: The Last Live Recording documents a live performance on April 23, 1967, one of the last times Coltrane would appear on stage, as he passed three months later. Strictly as a document, this is a rich and telling recording. It demonstrates his sonic blast free jazz direction that was becoming more aggressive and out of bounds; It portrays what could have been one of the most dynamically stellar groups of the mid-1960s avant jazz scene with Pharoah Sanders (who, in some ways, steals the show), Alice Coltrane, Rashied Ali, and Jimmy Garrison totally ripping it up; it also gives the average collector a taste of what the maniacal collector goes out of their way to find, as the sound quality is on the level of a sub-par bootleg. Don't expect to hear Bob Theil's warm production or one of Rudy Van Gelder's pristine live recordings á la Live at the Village Vanguard. Instead the equalization is uneven, and there are some parts where the tape drops out. Besides that though, this is essential for seasoned Coltrane listeners.
The superb 2016 six-disc John Coltrane box set The Atlantic Years: In Mono brings together most of the legendary jazz musician's Atlantic albums into one package, restored to their original mono sound. Beginning in 1959, Coltrane's Atlantic years were a transformative time for the saxophonist, during which he furthered his modal explorations and began incorporating aspects of the avant-garde, a vital combination that he would later bring to its pinnacle on his 1965 Impulse! classic, A Love Supreme. Included here are the landmark albums Giant Steps (1960), Bags & Trane (1959) with vibraphonist Milt Jackson, Olé Coltrane (1961) featuring trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, Plays the Blues (1960), and Coltrane's collaboration with maverick pocket trumpeter Don Cherry, The Avant-Garde (1966). Also included is a 32-page book featuring photos by Lee Friedlander and liner notes by writer Ashley Kahn.
One of the turning points in the career of John Coltrane came in 1965. The great saxophonist, whose playing was always very explorative and searching, crossed the line into atonality during that year, playing very free improvisations (after stating quick throwaway themes) that were full of passion and fury. This particular studio album has two standards (a stirring "Chim Chim Cheree" and "Nature Boy") along with two recent Coltrane originals ("Brazilia" and "Song of Praise"). Art Davis plays the second bass on "Nature Boy," but otherwise this set (a perfect introduction for listeners to Coltrane's last period) features the classic quartet comprised of the leader, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones.
The two LP editions recorded at this Paris concert were the last examples of Bill Evans' playing to be released at the time. With bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe La Barbera, Evans had one of the strongest trios of his career, as can be heard on such pieces as Edition One's "My Romance," "I Loves You, Porgy," and "Beautiful Love." The close communication between the players is reminiscent of Evans' 1961 unit with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian.
The fifth and final volume in Universal's massive John Coltrane: The Impulse! Albums in the Originals series, contains five recordings, all issued posthumously between 1970 and 1973. Two of these, Transition and Sun Ship, feature Coltrane's classic quartet with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones. Of the remaining albums, two are live recordings – Live in Seattle and Concert in Japan – the remaining one being the infamous Infinity.