August 2, 2021

Unpublished Coltrane, 55 years later

McCoy Tyner (izda) y John Coltrane. Foto: Joe Alper

This is like finding a new chamber in the Great Pyramid. This is how the legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins refers to the publication of an unreleased record by another even more legendary saxophonist: John Coltrane. This Friday, June 29, the album is released, with compositions never heard before, recorded in 1963. It is titled Both Directions at Once. The Lost Album and published by Impulse! Records, the last label Coltrane signed with and which today belongs to the Verve group, in turn a subsidiary of the largest record industry conglomerate, Universal.

The album was created 55 years ago in the Van Gelder studios, the Abbey Road of jazz, together with his classical quartet, which was completed by the pianist McCoy Tyner, the double bassist Jimmy Garrison and the drummer Elvin Jones. The music on this album shows one of the most influential groups in the history of music playing with a sound that they had perfected and reaching new avenues of expression that would forever affect the future of the genre.

The recording was made on March 6, 1963. In those days, Coltrane was very busy with a two-week residency at the iconic New York club Birdland (which bore in its name a tribute to Charlie Parker, nicknamed “Bird”) and the preparation of what would become one of his most famous albums, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, whose recording was made on March 7. Despite their busy schedule, a day earlier the Coltrane quartet found time to record at Van Gelder Studios in New Jersey. There they recorded enough material for a full album, but it was never released. Coltrane took the original reference tape home, and shared it with his wife, Naima. And there it remained during all this time, in perfect condition, until Impulse! contacted Coltrane’s family to be able to edit it and release the album.

Danny Bennett, CEO and President of the Verve Label Group, comments: “Jazz is more important today than ever. It is becoming the alternative music of the 21st century and no one better than John Coltrane to embody the barrier-breaking essence of jazz. He was a visionary who changed the course of music, and his lost album is a once-in-a-lifetime find. “

On the album there are two completely unknown original recordings and never before
heard. ?? Untitled Original 11383 ?? and ?? Untitled Original 11386, ?? both interpreted
with soprano sax. ?? 11383 ?? contains a relative rarity, a solo on Jimmy’s double bass
Garrison, and ?? 11386 ?? marks a significant structural change since after the solos, the
quartet returns to the recurring theme and that is something very atypical in the repertoire
Of the information.

In addition to the two unreleased and completely virgin original tracks, the album contains the only studio version of ?? One Up,
One Down ??, which had only been released on a live recording at Birdland, and which contains a fascinating exchange between Elvin Jones and Coltrane.
?? Impressions ??, one of the most famous and frequently recorded compositions of
Coltrane, is performed in a trio format, without piano, on this album.

This studio session also included one of Coltrane’s earliest recordings of
?? Nature Boy ??, which he recorded again in 1965 again, and the two versions are
diametrically opposite. The one we already knew is a flurry, a dispersion. Is
On the other hand, it is compact, without solos and with a duration of just over three minutes. The
another song that is not an original composition of the album is ?? Vilia ??, from Franz’s operetta
Lehár The Merry Widow.

A total of 14 topics have resulted from this historic session. In the standard version there are seven
pieces chosen by Ravi Coltrane, Coltrane’s second son and also a saxophonist. The rest of the pieces are gathered on the second CD of the
Deluxe edition. Both will go on sale on June 29 and will also be available on the main platforms of streaming.