One of the more woefully underappreciated blues artists of the last three decades, Taj Mahal has consistently made great records that combine his extensive knowledge of roots music with a refreshingly non-elitist sensibility. Giant Step/De Ole Folks At Home from 1969 was Taj's commercial high point, and it's easy to understand why. The first half of the album (originally released as a two-record set) features Taj and band blending rock, pop and blues on songs like "Take a Giant Step," "Give Your Woman What She Wants" and "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl." The second half is more laid-back and down-home, with Taj essaying solo renditions of "Fishing Blues," "Stagger Lee" and "Light Rain Blues" on banjo, harmonica and acoustic guitar. The most effortlessly enjoyable record of an effortlessly enjoyable career.
Coltrane Jazz is the sixth studio album by jazz musician John Coltrane, released in 1961 on Atlantic Records. The song "Villa's Blues" is noted as a landmark recording, as it marks the first session date of the early John Coltrane Quartet on record. Featured alongside Coltrane are pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, and bassist Steve Davis. On June 20, 2000, Rhino Records reissued Coltrane Jazz as part of its Atlantic 50th Anniversary Jazz Gallery series. Included were four bonus tracks, two of which had appeared in 1975 on the Atlantic compilation Alternate Takes, the remaining pair earlier issued on The Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings in 1995…
The Heavyweight Champion is a box set that lives up to its title. Collecting all of John Coltrane's Atlantic recordings, including a fair number of unreleased takes as well as an entire disc of alternate tracks and studio chatter, the seven-disc box set documents a pivotal moment in Coltrane's career, as he was moving from hard bop and sweet standards to a more daring, experimental style of playing influenced by the avant-garde. Much of the music is hard bop (Giant Steps) or lushly melodic (My Favorite Things), but the latter discs show the saxophonist coming to terms with the more experimental movements in jazz. The scope of this music is, quite simply, breathtaking – not only was Coltrane developing at a rapid speed, but the resulting music encompasses nearly every element that made him a brilliant musician, and it is beautiful.
History will undoubtedly enshrine this disc as a watershed the likes of which may never truly be appreciated. Giant Steps bore the double-edged sword of furthering the cause of the music as well as delivering it to an increasingly mainstream audience. Although this was John Coltrane's debut for Atlantic, he was concurrently performing and recording with Miles Davis. Within the space of less than three weeks, Coltrane would complete his work with Davis and company on another genre-defining disc, Kind of Blue, before commencing his efforts on this one. Coltrane (tenor sax) is flanked by essentially two different trios.
Jazz Icons: John Coltrane provides an epic 95-minute overview of a true giant of 20th-century music. Three separate shows reveal Coltrane's ascending creative arc from hard bop innovator as a member of the Miles Davis Quartet in 1960 to consummate bandleader in 1961 to unrivalled jazz visionary in 1965. This DVD not only features Trane's classic quartet with Elvin Jones (drums), Jimmy Garrison (bass) and McCoy Tyner (piano), but also spotlights him onstage with other jazz legends including Stan Getz, Eric Dolphy and Oscar Peterson. Includes mind-blowing versions of his signature tunes "My Favorite Things" and "Impressions".
A career on the saxophone with one of the most freethinking saxophonists in music history for a father has to be a tough call. Now 46, Ravi Coltrane, son of John, has often chosen to be a sympathetic sideman rather than the boss. But his Blue Note Records debut as a leader feels like a giant step. The tracks are split between two groups (a quartet with Luis Perdomo on piano, and a superb quintet with Geri Allen at the keys, and Ralph Alessi on trumpet), playing an arrestingly original postbop repertoire, plus covers of pieces by Ornette Coleman and Paul Motian. There are delicate improv conversations between Coltrane and Alessi, passages in which Geri Allen and drummer Eric Harland uncannily recall the sound of the young Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams in the Miles Davis quintet, quiet tone-bending sax ruminations and a deliciously ramshackle version of Ornette Coleman's Check Out Time. It genuinely sounds like a coming-of-age for Ravi Coltrane.
Released in 2008 as a strong jazz entry in the affordable Starbucks/Rhino Special Products Opus Collection series, "A Man Called Trane" is a worthwhile and accessible introduction to the powerfully moving music of saxophonist John Coltrane. Drawing upon the Blue Note, Atlantic, and Impulse catalogs, this ten-track sampler spans a timeline from September 1957 to December 1964, revisiting his live performances at the Village Vanguard and the Newport Jazz Festival, dipping into the albums Blue Train, Coltrane's Sound, Giant Steps, Coltrane Plays the Blues, and My Favorite Things, and reaching a logical conclusion with the profoundly beautiful opening movement of his extended prayer and magnum opus "A Love Supreme." ~ AllMusic