The complicated rhythm patterns and diverse sonic textures on Olé Coltrane are evidence that John Coltrane was once again charting his own course. His sheer ability as a maverick – beyond his appreciable musical skills – guides works such as this to new levels, ultimately advancing the entire art form. Historically, it's worth noting that recording had already commenced two days prior to this session on Africa/Brass, Coltrane's debut for the burgeoning Impulse! label. The two sets complement each other, suggesting a shift in the larger scheme of Coltrane's musical motifs. The assembled musicians worked within a basic quartet setting, featuring Coltrane on soprano and tenor sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, and Elvin Jones on drums, with double-bass chores held down by Art Davis and Reggie Workman. Added to that are significant contributions and interactions with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and Eric Dolphy on flute and alto sax (although Dolphy's contract with another record label prevented him from being properly credited on initial pressings of the album). The title track is striking in its resemblance to the Spanish influence heard on Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain.
Whether or not Yo La Tengo are being tongue in cheek with the title of their 14th album, Popular Songs does find Hoboken's finest embracing pop song structures with a renewed degree of enthusiasm – this isn't quite the Yo La Tengo "loaded with hits" album, but for a band that's shown an increasing willingness to explore the outer limits of its music in the studio, Popular Songs features nine tunes you can hum along with and sometimes even dance to. Those who got high marks in math will notice that Popular Songs has 12 selections, and as befits a band that covered George McCrae's "You Can Have It All," on the second half of this set YLT take the opportunity to stretch out and invite the spirit for a while – the total time of the first nine tracks on Popular Songs is roughly the same as the last three, which should tell you something about the album's dual nature.
This year (2014) marks Yo La Tengo’s 30th anniversary, and they’re celebrating it by reissuing their sixth album, Painful, released nearly a decade into their career. The cardigan-cozy sound of the record effectively established Yo La Tengo as indie rock’s great romantics, and featured a couple of significant firsts for the trio.