Coltrane and the Low Horn

Trane's first recording as Leader

Trane liked to experiment with textured sound. His turn on the soprano sax is a good example. His arrangement of low horns on the Africa Brass Sessions is another. And then there is his work with Eric Dolphy. But his very first recording included a baritone sax played by Sahib Shihab (born Edmond Gregory in Savannah Georgia). The rolling earth texture of this horn sets this first album apart from Trane's work in the late fifties. The rest of the band is magnificent as well.

The recording was released as Coltrane. Paul Chambers plays bass. Albert "Tootie" Heath is on drums. Mal Waldron and Red Garland take turns on piano. Johnny Splawn plays trumpet on four cuts. This album is so delicious. All of Trane's twang is on display. The best way to get the album is to spring for the box set Fearless Leader Prestige 1957-58. Even if you are supicious of box sets, as I used to be, this is one to have. This is the John Coltrane that made everyone, including Miles, stop and listen.

Coltrane was recorded six days after I was born. Coincidence? I think not. There was something in the air! 'Chronic Blues' might be the best cut on Coltrane. I implore you: save your pennies and get the box set. It will reward you without end.

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Kenneth Blanchard