September 15: John Coltrane – Blue Train (1957)

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Without reservation, Blue Train can easily be considered in and among the most important and influential entries not only of John Coltrane’s career, but of the entire genre of jazz music as well.
~Lindsay Planer (allmusic.com)

“Blue Train” is the best thing that could have possibly come out of Coltrane’s first attempt at leading and composing his own group. His later works such as “Giant Steps” and “A Love Supreme” may be well-known, but this album is on the same scale if not greater considering his inexperience as a leader and a composer. Its influence on jazz is extraordinary. This band’s and this album’s sound is different from most of jazz and revolutionary and the title track is commonly used as an audition piece. Highly recommended for anyone who even remotely likes jazz.
~Sputnik Music

Blue Train (title track):

Wikipedia:

Released 1957
Recorded September 15, 1957
Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack
Genre Hard bop
Length 42:50
Label Blue Note Records
BLP 1577
Producer Alfred Lion

Blue Train is the second studio album by John Coltrane, released in 1957 on Blue Note Records, catalogue BLP 1577. Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, New Jersey, it is Coltrane’s second solo album, the only one he recorded for Blue Note as a leader, and the only one he conceived personally for the label. It has been certified a gold record by the RIAA.

 

john coltrane blue train bw

 

The album was recorded in the midst of Coltrane’s residency at the Five Spot as a member of the Thelonious Monk quartet. The personnel include Coltrane’s once and future Miles Davis bandmates, Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums, both of whom had played on pianist Kenny Drew’s trio album on Riverside Records the year before. Both trumpeter Lee Morgan and trombonist Curtis Fuller were up-and-coming jazz musicians, and both would be members of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, although not together.

All of the compositions were written by Coltrane, with the exception of the standard “I’m Old Fashioned.” The title track is a long, rhythmically variegated blues with a sentimental minor theme that gradually shifts to major during Coltrane’s first chorus. “Locomotion” is also a blues riff tune, in forty-four-bar form. During a 1960 interview, Coltrane described Blue Train as his favorite album of his own up to that point.

I’m Old Fashioned:

Blue Train II

 

It is easy to value John Coltrane’s “Blue Train” while at the same time failing to do full justice to its importance.

It was John Coltrane’s first and only recording for Blue Note. It was the first album in which he had a free choice of the musicians he wanted to record with. It is the album in which John Coltrane gets the closest to hard bop.

But then, the argument goes, “Blue Train” is ultimately uncharacteristic of the great tenor player’s music. Somehow it makes too many concessions to the Blue Note ‘sound’. If there had been more recordings for the label, his music may have gone further in this direction, but as it turned out, he joined Miles Davis in the modal revolution, then signed as leader with Atlantic and then Impulse! where his own music went off in further new directions with “Giant Steps” and “A Love Supreme”. It is a widely accepted view. And the paradox is that “Blue Train” thus remains in many ways undervalued.
~100 Greatest Jazz Albums

Track listing
Side one

  1. “Blue Train” John Coltrane 10:43
  2. “Moment’s Notice” John Coltrane 9:10

Side two

  1. “Locomotion” John Coltrane 7:14
  2. “I’m Old Fashioned” Johnny Mercer, Jerome Kern 7:58
  3. “Lazy Bird” John Coltrane 7:00

Locomotion:

john coltrane blue train 3

Personnel:

  • John Coltrane — tenor saxophone
  • Lee Morgan — trumpet
  • Curtis Fuller — trombone
  • Kenny Drew — piano
  • Paul Chambers — bass
  • Philly Joe Jones — drums

Full album @ spotify:

-Egil

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