This is one of the previously unheard John Coltrane compositions from last year’s much-touted release Both Directions at Once. It’s a treat to listen to any collaboration by this great band, even if it sounds more like a ‘first draft’ than a coherent and polished Trane album.
At first glance, the tune seems very similar to the Benny Golson blues we looked at the last two weeks; it’s a fast 12-bar blues in the key of Bb, and features a Gb7sus chord in the turnaround. This time, though, there is no predictable move to F7 in bar 10, so there’s no strong tonal resolution. The melody and harmony both avoid the D natural that would put us firmly in the key of Bb major, and the band continues this ambiguity right on into the solos, while Golson’s tune switches to a standard major blues for the band to solo over.
“John Coltrane” is a tribute to the late sax master by bassist Bill Lee (father of filmmaker Spike Lee). It appears on Clifford Jordan’s 1973 double album Glass Bead Games, released on the Strata East label. I hadn’t listened to the record in years until a reader recently reminded me how good it is. It features swinging and funky compositions by everyone involved, plus soulful playing by Clifford, who channels Trane on this track while retaining his unique voice.
Well, it’s Valentine’s day again! Like it or not, it’s one of the few chances you get during the year to put an actual dollar amount on the love you feel for another human being. Because let’s face it, the day itself doesn’t bring people closer together. You probably don’t love a person any more today than you do on the 13th or 15th of February. Like so much of life it comes down to advertising. People who have a product to sell want you to believe that you pay a social or personal price for not buying it. I know most people are rational about the meaning of Valentine’s day, but woe is the man who fails to acknowledge it in some way. We would do well to just change the name to “Chocolate Day”. Significant others still get gifts, unattached people don’t feel lonely or stigmatized, everyone gets that coveted serotonin rush. Doesn’t Chocolate Day sound nice?
Anyway, my contribution to the festivities will be a couple of “love” songs, the first from the pen of George Gershwin.
This chart is based on an Erroll Garner version I had on cassette tape. He recorded the tune more than once but I remember this take really captured the essence of Erroll’s style: his warmth and humor, the way he made virtuosic playing seem so easy, never losing that swinging feel.
Here’s a tune I transcribed a few years ago off a John Coltrane reissue called Stardust, recorded with Wilbur Harden on trumpet and the flawless rhythm section of Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb. “Love Thy Neighbor” was written by the team of Harry Revel and Mack Gordon (Mack also wrote one of the great love songs of all time, “At Last”).