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John Coltrane: The Classic Quartet: The Complete Impulse Studio R

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John Coltrane’s Impulse! years can be likened to a meteor shower, with countless ideas streaking the wide-open jazz skies of the early and mid 1960s; some intersected while others broke away from the pack; some arced beautifully over the course of years, while others quickly flamed out. Nearly all of these ideas found their way into his studio recordings with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones, which is borne out on The Classic Quarter.

For someone in the initial stages of building a basic library, buying this collection is a no-brainer, especially when the sale price in national retail chains dips as low as $62.99, a fine value for any 8-disc set, let alone one of such historical importance. However, the longtime aficionado, who suffered through the miserable initial MCA-mastered CDs, and weathered subsequent re-configurations of materials, may balk. The relegation of seven previously unissued tracks (which clock in at just over 51 minutes) to the collection’s final disc-titled “Works in Progress”-suggests a separate package may be in the wings. This glaring exception to producer Michael Cuscuna’s rule of maintaining chronological order whenever possible in box set sequencing will cause budget-minded collectors to wait it out.

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