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 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.
The two and a half years represented in this mammoth collection made up a period of great activity and development for young John Coltrane. It was a time in which he worked in the Miles Davis Quintet, then joined Thelonious Monk for his historic Five Spot engagement, and then took his place in the legendary 1958 Miles Davis Sextet. It was a time in which he grew from a somewhat promising tenor player to a supernova about to burst upon the jazz world. It was also a span during which Trane traveled with great regularity to the original New Jersey location of the Rudy Van Gelder Studio, taking part in no less than 25 lengthy Prestige recording sessions.
Packaged together in this five-disc box set from Verve/Hip-O-Select, these titles represent the albums Impulse issued following John Coltrane's death in 1967, and remain some of the most controversial in his catalog (numerous critics thought – and many still do – that dubious choices were made in assembling them).
This Savoy double CD brings together in one package all of the label's sessions led by Harden, a talented young musician who turned up briefly, disappeared and is presumed to have died in the 1960s. It includes several alternate takes, giving ample evidence of his attractiveness as a player. He wrote all the pieces, which are more substantial than the on-the-spot "compositions" of many Savoy sessions of the '50s. Sometimes playing trumpet and sometimes rotary valve flugelhorn, he was capable of range, power and bursts of speed, but he built many of his solos on a base of restraint, lyricism and a certain wistfulness.