Thursday, January 10, 2013

John Coltrane – Bahia

   In 1965 John Coltrane was at the top of his career. During the period of early 60’s, his recordings were modern enough to impress critics and creative to influence musicians, while still enough clear to be interesting for wide group of listeners and record buyers. This moment was the time John Coltrane was parted from Prestige and recording for rival companies. And the record company has been published Coltrane’s unissued recordings from late 50’s, when he was playing with Miles Davis Quintet and recording lots of material in various lineups. It was easy money for the company, and those times producers didn’t even bother to ask artist for his acceptance. One of such editions is Bahia published in May 1965 by Prestige and republished in 1989 after remastering by Phil de Lancie in Fantasy Studios, Berkeley. Recordings were made during two sessions in Van Gelder Studio, Hackensak, NJ in 1958, July 11th and December 26th. It is not complete set of material recorded during these sessions and for the Bahia album producers had choose only parts sharing the same idea and stable lineup.
   Recordings included in Bahia disc are firmly connected to the style of Miles Davis Quintet. During the two 1958 Bahia sessions John Coltrane played with two other musicians from Davis’ group – pianist Red Garland and bassist Paul Chambers and this is what makes this lineup the three fifths of the quintet. This connection is enough clear considering the impact of Davis’ quintet on jazz scene in 50’s. And in this album this influence is articulated both in plain references and in attempts to overcome the cool idiom. Davis influences are present also in the style of trumpet player Wilbur Hardin. And drummers Art Taylor and Jimmy Cobb playing different sessions were following Philly Joe Jones of Davis’ legendary first Quintet.

John Coltrane – Bahia (1965)

   Musicians were aiming to build more expressive, stronger and explicit style, what can be observe in Bahia which has been chosen for framing the style of the whole 1965 album. And the title piece has been improvised like it was an attempt of exceeding the style barriers of cool jazz style. It can be heard in all nervously interacted solos by Coltrane, Garland and Chambers, who played the bow with high tension and melodic invention. Even the way Coltrane played the Bahia theme has the new expression outline. This attitude is even more openly demonstrated in Goldsboro Express where exploration reaches the moment of freely dialoguing between Coltrane and Art Taylor. In such context these recordings can be seen as alternative version of quartet and quintet with leading tenor saxophone. This particular moment Coltrane was looking for new structures of musical improvisation, trying to free his expression means of the song structure. In effect he worked out on scalar and modal techniques aiming to create the wider scope of new jazz style.
   Although John Coltrane was forerunner, he was not alone, all musicians playing Prestige sessions were moving the same path. Coltrane was the kind of strong personality and sometimes he was just the one doing larger steps. He was always aware of the overriding meaning of artistic work. As he said in an interview for Down Beat in 1962, “the main thing a musician would like to do is to give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things he knows of and senses in the universe”. His sense of the universe has a kind of religious fervor, the perfect virtuoso technique and the revolutionary theoretical solutions. His fierce solos in Bahia and Goldsboro Express are the chance to look inside his style at the moment of its creation. The counterweight for this eruption of ideas are lyrical solos with rich sound and ballade structure My Ideal and Something I Dreamed Last Night. These promising moments pointed the path to his future creations.

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