In 1958, John Coltrane was not yet what he would soon become: one of the most important innovators in the jazz tradition. But his work with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk—as well as his own Blue Train album—had already set him apart as a self-assured, forward-looking hard-bop tenor saxophonist.
A new five-CD set of Coltrane’s music from that year, Coltrane ’58: The Prestige Recordings, is a useful and informative look at the ways in which Coltrane—on the cusp of true greatness, one year away from Giant Steps—was developing as a musician.
The set, available Mar. 29, is being released on Craft Recordings, the catalog label for Concord Music, as part of a 70th-anniversary celebration of Prestige Records, which was founded in 1949 by Bob Weinstock.
For the first time, all 37 tracks that Coltrane cut for Prestige in 1958 will be presented in the order in which they were recorded. Engineered by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder, many of these tracks—which include “Lush Life,” “Stardust,” “The Believer,” “Rise and Shine,” and “Bahia”—didn’t see release until the ’60s, on albums such as Black Pearls and Settin’ the Pace, after the saxophonist’s reputation had been firmly established.
The box set (which will also be available as an eight-LP package) features such illustrious personnel as Kenny Burrell on guitar; Donald Byrd and Freddie Hubbard on trumpet; Paul Chambers on bass; Louis Hayes, Art Taylor, and Jimmy Cobb on drums; Tommy Flanagan and Red Garland on piano; and Wilbur Harden on trumpet and flugelhorn.
In the wake of these recordings, Coltrane would go on to cut a long series of canonical albums, including My Favorite Things, Crescent, and A Love Supreme. Last year, a “lost” Coltrane album, Both Directions at Once, recorded in 1963, was released to critical acclaim, drawing new attention to his catalog.