Giant Steps By Ron Wynn

April/May column, Part II

I – Appreciations

A. Chris Albertson

Chris Albertson was a distinguished writer, critic and DJ, whose greatest fame came for his pioneering work writing about and later producing reissue vintage recordings of the great blues singer Bessie Smith. But Albertson, who died April 24 at 87 at his Manhattan home, was a very knowledgeable authority and gifted writer about a wide range of jazz and blues artists. He was born and grew up in Denmark, and his early radio career was spent in Philadelphia at a jazz station. A 1959 meeting between Albertson and famed record producer John Hammond ultimately led to Albertson’s participation in both writing the definitive Smith biography and penning Grammy-winning liner notes for the reissues.

Albertson actually wanted Hammond to sign guitarist Lonnie Johnson and banjo great Elmer Snowden to contracts, but that didn’t materialize. However, the duo shared their mutual love for Bessie Smith’s music. Over the next decade they often spoke about getting it back into circulation. Finally, Albertson convinced Hammond to reissue a series of Smith’s recordings. Hammond in turn selected Albertson as series producer. Albertson revisited all 159 Smith songs, and eventually released five two-disc sets of her music.

The 1970 release “Bessie Smith: The World’s Greatest Blues Singer” earned him a Grammy. Two years later, Albertson’s biography “Bessie” was released. It not only provided vital information regarding her career, but shattered widely held myths about her life and death. Albertson interviewed Dr. Hugh Smith, the white man who found Bessie Smith at the site of the original auto accident. Among many other things, Smith didn’t die because she was refused medical treatment at a white hospital. In fact, she died at a black one. Also, there were TWO accidents around her death, the second of which occurred while Dr. Smith was treating her. Then a pair of ambulances arrived, and she went to the black hospital where she subsequently died.

There were many other revelations in “Bessie,” which remains one of the finest combination biographies/career examinations ever done in any field. Albertson later reviewed both jazz and blues recordings for Stereo Review and a host of other publications for many years, and also made selected radio and TV appearances before his death.

B. Chuck Barksdale

Charles “Chuck” Barksdale was one of the finest bass singers in popular music history, and a charter member of the great Chicago group The Dells. Barksdale, who died May 13 at 84, could sing lead or harmony, and comfortably handle either the bass or baritone parts in any arrangement. The Dells enjoyed 46 R&B hits from 1956-1992. Barksdale doubled as the group’s business manager and long-range planner, keeping them active long after their days as regulars on the R&B/soul charts had ended. They stayed busy throughout their tenure and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. 

The Dells were also technical advisers on Robert Townsend’s film “The Five Heartbeats,” and Townsend publicly credited Barksdale for giving him insight into the doo-wop, traditional R&B and soul eras. Though he rose to fame working in doo-wop, R&B and soul, Barksdale was also a big jazz fan. His first group was the El-Rays in 1952. He sang for a short time with the Moonglows, where he met and became friends with Marvin Gaye. But it was with the Dells that Barksdale achieved his greatest fame. Their first hit was “Oh What A Night” in 1956, which peaked on the pop charts at number three. They’d later remake it as a soul staple.

Throughout their time on the Chess family of labels, particularly the sessions produced by Charles Stepney, Barksdale’s prominent bass voice was their harmony anchor. “Stay In My Corner” remains their most beloved tune, but other gems included “The Love We Had Stays On My Mind,” “A Heart Is A House For Love,” (featured in “The Five Heartbeats), “Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation” and their last big hit “I Touched A Dream,” which reconnected them with the hip-hop generation. They also toured at one time with Dinah Washington and backed Barbara Lewis on several of her biggest hits. Though he didn’t get the upfront fame of tenor Marvin Junior or falsetto stylist Johnny Carter, Chuck Barksdale’s brilliance was every bit as important a factor in the Dells’ greatness.

 

II – Jazz Commentary

A. Golden Age?

Over the past few months, first the New York Times and then an English publication “The Guardian” have printed articles asking whether this is a “golden age” for jazz. Of the two pieces, the more insightful and nuanced one is the Times article written by their former critic and current WBGO stalwart Nate Chinen. But both offer good food for thought. They each cite the prominence of Esperanza Spalding and Kamasi Washington as evidence that at worse, there are jazz artists who are getting both critical praise and enjoying commercial success, even if there are the  inevitable cynics who question whether Washington is truly a substantive player, or being hyped because he’s played with Kendrick Lamar.

Chinen wisely warns about trying to compare past greats with present players, and of damning anyone not considered an “innovator” with unfair criticism. But his best point is saying if you are viewing jazz in “golden age” fashion you’re locking it into a point of reference that considers some eras good and others not so good. That was the biggest problem with the Ken Burns’ “Jazz” series that essentially dismissed everything from the ’60s on as close to worthless, because music in those decades didn’t equal or surpass the breakthroughs of the 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50s. Chinen’s new book about the current jazz era is an essential one, as he identifies some key players and major contemporary figures and recordings, many of whom aren’t getting nearly the attention they deserve.

The Guardian article is the proverbial mixed blessing, mainly because it equates worthiness with popularity, always a questionable premise. For example, while they are right to cite Henry Threadgill’s winning the Pulitzer Prize for composition as a notable and worthy achievement, that didn’t suddenly validate his greatness, nor did it result in him becoming a celebrity. Likewise, a few articles here and there in The New Yorker or Esquire isn’t nearly the same as the period jazz was getting regular, sustained coverage in newspapers and magazines. Nor did the article address the continuing disappearance of jazz from the broadcast airwaves, the impact of “smooth jazz,” or the ongoing problem of getting the music more exposure among young people, as well as the lack of venues, etc.

In short, this era has seen increased awareness on some levels for a handful of jazz musicians, and a bit more general coverage of the music as a whole. But “golden age” is far too generous, as well as inaccurate. I don’t watch the wave of reality music programs, but I seriously doubt anyone on shows like “The Voice” or the reborn “American Idol” is pushing a jazz career for aspiring contestants. Jazz as far as the radio broadcast airwaves, remains isolated to mostly specialty stations, a handful of NPR affiliates on the weekend, and satellite/Internet radio. I don’t say that to disparage any of them, because I’m grateful they exist. Television, at least in this country, pretty much totally ignores jazz and also blues. While much of “smooth jazz” sounds to my ears like light R&B, at least it’s given some fine singers like Will Downing, Jeffrey Osborne and Lalah Hathaway a place where their music can be heard.

So, while I’m not one of these “jazz is dead” folks, let’s not go too far in the other direction either with “golden age” talk.

B. 2020 NEA Jazz Masters

The newest recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters Awards were announced recently, and this year I don’t think anyone will have anything negative to say about any winner. There were three musicians selected, plus a noteworthy and longtime jazz advocate. Vocalist/composer/conductor/educator Bobby McFerrin, multi -instrumentalist/composer/bandleader/educator Roscoe Mitchell, and bassist/educator/composer/producer Reggie Workman were named Jazz Masters. Dorthaan Kirk, “Newark’s First Lady of Jazz” and a major force with WBGO radio as well as a curator, supporter of jazz education programs, and producer of jazz events throughout New Jersey, was awarded the 2020 A.B. Spellman Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy.

McFerrin’s astonishing four-octave vocal range has been showcased on a host of recordings. He’s won 10 Grammy Awards, been recognized in both jazz and classical circles, and even had that rare pop hit with “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Mitchell has been a mainstay with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since its early days in the ’60s, as well as a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Reggie Workman has been part of two seminal jazz ensembles, the John Coltrane Quartet and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and a professor at the New School’s College of Performing Arts in New York City since 1987.

This class will be honored with a free public event in San Francisco April 2, 2020.

 

III – Jazz Conversations

A. Jack Silverman

Guitarist Jack Silverman has been a welcome and important presence on the Nashville scene since 1997. He’s played with numerous artists, including Viktor Krauss, Jason White, Kristi Rose Jim Hoke, Brady Seals and many more. For several years, he fronted his own instrumental/jazz/improv project The Jack Silverman Ordeal, and you can hear that group’s self-titled 2009 album on most music streaming services. For the last five years, he’s been working steadily with The Stolen Faces, one of the country’s premier Grateful Dead cover bands. He also performs regularly with jazz/improv trio The Left Hooks and original rock project Lanturns (NOTE TO RON, YES, THAT’S HOW WE SPELL IT … EVEN THOUGH IT’S WRONG. HA.). He’s also recently begun doing solo instrumental performances.

In addition, Jack’s a gifted writer/editor who worked for years as part of the Nashville Scene’s editorial team. But now he’s devoting the bulk of his time to playing. As a side note, he gave my oldest son some guitar lessons many years ago.

(1) What initially got you interested in music and subsequently both playing guitar and becoming among things a jazz fan?

“My first musical loves in my high school years were Jimi Hendrix, Steely Dan and The Allman Brothers. My freshman year in college, I was first exposed to the Grateful Dead, and that became a lifelong love affair. And that’s what got me started playing guitar. And from the improvisational aspects of the Dead’s music, I was drawn more into jazz. I remember Coltrane’s “Olé” album being an early one that I was drawn to. Also, Pharoah Sanders’ “Black Unity” record, which to my ears walked the line between jazz, free music and psychedelia. It’s still a fave of mine.”

(2) Who would you consider stylistic influences?

“There are many, but there are a few main ones. Jerry Garcia, electric Miles Davis, John Scofield, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, David Hidalgo (of Los Lobos), Bill Frisell and Marc Ribot. And, though there’s no guitar, Medeski, Martin and Wood have been a huge influence. I’d also like to credit a couple of great teachers, the fabulous Leni Stern, and someone whose teachings still reverberate in my playing even though she died nearly 30 years ago, Emily Remler. If you haven’t checked out Emily Remler, do yourself a favor. She was on par with many of the other great jazz guitar greats, but unfortunately, the jazz world has historically been a particularly sexist environment, thought that seems to be changing, thankfully.”

(3) What other styles do you incorporate in your playing?

“I never perform in a bluegrass setting, but I love to learn and practice bluegrass tunes. That is some of the best guitar exercise for the right hand, and in particular, I have found the cross-picking approach, a cornerstone of bluegrass guitar, to have great applications in all sorts of improvisational settings. I spent a lot of years studying and playing the blues, and that’s still a big part of my DNA. Albert King, Freddy King, B.B., Jimmy Vaughan, Albert Collins. I was fortunate to see all of them except Freddy King play live too.”

(4) Nashville has a reputation as being a tough place to make a living as a musician as opposed to being strictly a songwriter or being involved in other aspects of the music business. How would you characterize it over the time you’ve lived here?

“Making a living playing club dates in Nashville is challenging. There are so many great players here, and the local live club scene, while very active, doesn’t always pay great. Frankly, I could make more money doing local club dates in Cleveland, Ohio, where I grew up. But I wouldn’t enjoy it as much, and I wouldn’t have the opportunities to play with musicians as great as the folks I play with here. So it’s a double-edged sword. The real money here is in the studio and getting road gigs. I’ve done a little of both, but frankly, I worked a full-time day job for 15 years of the time I was here. But to me, it was worth it to be here. I’ve never been one who wanted to get a country sideman type of gig. I appreciate how that could be fulfilling for some folks, but I decided I’d rather work a job I liked. Now I’m playing full-time.”

(5) You’ve been involved in a variety of bands over the years. What was or is your favorite group?

“Oh, I can’t really pick a favorite. But some of the standouts include playing with Viktor Krauss (both in my group, and in his), Kristi Rose, Jason White, and several different groups fronted by Jim Hoke, who is one of the greatest all-around musicians I’ve ever worked with. He plays everything well … saxes, pedal steel, harmonica, he’s a monster on anything. And all of my current projects are a blast: Lanturns (an original rock project), The Left Hooks (an improv/jazz trio) and The Stolen Faces (a Dead cover band). Regarding The Stolen Faces, I’ve had more than a few folks roll their eyes when I mention that I play in a Dead cover band, but I get as much or more freedom to experiment with weird sounds and harmonic ideas and to explore wild tangents with that band than just about anywhere else. As Christian Grizzard, the bassist and co-founder of band, once said to me, “It’s as satisfying as jazz, but people show up.” That may sound a little harsh re: jazz, but you get the point.”

(6) What would you consider your favorite albums from a jazz perspective?

“I’m one of those folks who really loved Miles Davis’ crazy electric years. I know “Bitches Brew” is the touchstone from that era for a lot of people, and it’s great, but I find “Live-Evil” to be the one that really floors me every time I listen to it. Others I love include “Smokin’ at the Half Note” (Wes Montgomery) “A Go Go” (John Scofield) , “Giant Steps” (John Coltrane), “Shack Man” (Medeski, Martin and Wood). Also, though it’s not the first album people usually love when they talk about Thelonious Monk, I consider “Underground” to be his greatest work.

(7) What would be some others across the spectrum?

“Electric Ladyland” (Hendrix), “Live/Dead” (The Grateful Dead), “Astral Weeks” (Van Morrison), “Colossal Head” (Los Lobos)

(8) You’ve done some teaching as well. What kinds of advice do you give aspiring guitarists?

“One thing in particular, especially for flatpicking guitarists, is to really concentrate on your right hand, and try to keep it as relaxed and free-swinging as possible. Don’t try to rush through things. If you feel tension building in your right hand/arm/shoulder, you need to respect that limit. In other words, don’t try to play faster than you can while staying loose and relaxed. Also, find solos you like (by any instrument), and learn them in small bites. Use some sort of slow-down app to really learn it well, maybe just a measure or two at a time, slowly first. And to me, nothing is more important than rhythm. An early teacher of mine, the late great Paul Murphy (a legend of the New England blues and soul scene), told me one of the most important things, at the very first lesson I ever had. He said that nothing’s more important than rhythm. The wrong notes played in a cool rhythmic groove will always sound better than the right notes played with a poor sense of time.”

(9) What people that you’ve collaborated or played with have you enjoyed the most?

“Viktor Krauss, Kristi Rose, and her husband Fats Kaplin, Jason White, Derrek Phillips, Greg Bryant, Paul Horton, Jon Loyd, Tyson Rogers, Adam Abrashoff, Jim Hoke, James Haggerty, Christian Grizzard and the other fellows in the Stolen Faces.”

(10) What things have you not done professionally would you like to do in the future?

“I’ve just started performing solo, and I’d love to really make that a big part of my musical life.”

(11) You’ve also combined writing and editing with playing. Has being a musician helped or had any impact on you as a writer/editor?

“Definitely. The concepts of rhythm, directness, conciseness and emotional impact are very important in both worlds.”

(12) What books would you recommend from the standpoint of music history and/or criticism?

“For someone who has worked both as a journalist and musician, I have to confess I haven’t read nearly as much long-form criticism and history of music as I would have liked. But a couple of books that stand out in my memory are ‘MILES: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY’ and ‘JACO: THE EXTRAORDINARY AND TRAGIC LIFE OF JACO PASTORIUS.’”

(13) Do reviews, either positive or negative, of your music or bands that you’re playing with affect you?

“Well, frankly, it’s been a while since I’ve had any ink of a significant critical nature. I had more ink in my rock band days in Cleveland, mostly positive, but when I did get a negative review (once or twice), I tried to deduce, “Does this person just not like my style of music, or are there valid points that I should consider.” As I’ve gotten older, other people’s opinions have mattered less and less. And I’ve found a niche for myself here in Nashville, where I seem to get a lot of respect from other musicians, which is more important than anything.”

(14) How do you feel about the future of music journalism?

“It’s such a rapidly evolving scenario right now that it’s hard to gauge. I feel like there is no shortage of great music writers out there, but as you and I know all too well, it’s getting increasingly hard to make a living writing about music (or any art form). It’s the same in all categories of journalism, but I hope as the media landscape evolves, there will be some sort of pendulum shift.”

(15) Who are some new or current players that you enjoy?

“One of my new faves on guitar is Mike Baggetta, out of Knoxville. He recently did an album with Jim Keltner on drums and Mike Watt (of The Minutemen) on bass, WALL OF FLOWERS. It’s great, and he is so original. I love pretty much everything Jeff Coffin does. For jazz guitar, Peter Bernstein is a monster. Recently got turned on to Kamasi Washington, and that’s been eye-opening. Locally, if you haven’t seen JayVe Montgomery, who performs under the name Abstract Black, he is absolutely sensational. Using saxophone, loops, percussion instruments, even just a hose he swings around his head while he blows into it, he creates some of the coolest solo performances I have witnessed. And finally, I highly recommend that anyone looking for cutting edge music keep on eye on the FMRL experimental art and music series. Promoter Chris Davis (also a drummer with experimental folk outfit Cherry Blossoms) puts on some of the most interesting shows around town, and it’s stuff you won’t see anywhere else. That’s where I first heard Mike Baggetta, Mdou Moctar, Abstract Black and many more.”

B. Author Tom Graves debunks Netflix Robert Johnson film

Memphis author Tom Graves and I have been friends since the late 80s, when I was among a group of writers who did reviews and articles for his publication “Rock and Roll Disc.” Tom’s since done a host of things, including write six books, create a publishing house the Devault-Graves Agency co-founded with Darrin Devault, and win an Emmy award in partnership with filmmaker/journalist Robert Gordon for their production “Best of Enemies,” which chronicled the historic on-air confrontation between conservative pundit William F. Buckley and leftist author/playwright Gore Vidal on ABC when both were doing convention coverage in 1968. We will review in depth Tom’s sixth volume “White Boy” in a later column.

But a previous Graves work “Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson” earned him a Blues Music award. He watched Netflix’s recent “Remastered: Devil At The Crossroads” documentary on Robert Johnson and was less than impressed. We asked Tom to offer his assessment in rebuttal.

(1) What do you consider the biggest historical inaccuracies in this production?

“This constant baloney about Robert Johnson and the devil.  As I say in my book, the crossroads myth was meant for Tommy Johnson, not Robert Johnson.  The claimed crossroads in Clarksdale, Miss. is yet another myth.  Robert Johnson’s son had no idea who his daddy was.  He had never seen anything about the blues icon Robert Johnson popping up in his narrow rural world. So, for his grandson to be a talking head “expert” on Robert Johnson to me was especially egregious.  Claiming the wooden shack as Robert Johnson’s birthplace seemed dubious also.  And Bruce Conforth’s only claim to fame that I’m aware of at this point is that he learned a few new things about Ike Zimmerman (don’t know the true spelling) who was supposedly (no real proof) Robert Johnson’s guitar teacher back in his hometown of Hazlehurst. Again, it gets sensationalized with the telling that they practiced in graveyards.  I think that’s just hokum and wishful thinking.”

“Another annoying thing is that many of those film clips were NOT shot for this documentary; they were pilfered from old documentaries.  Apparently, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, etc. wouldn’t do new sittings.  Most of that is from old interviews.”

(2) Were you consulted on it at all?

“Not one bit, and that kind of surprises me.  I’m in the phonebook.”

(3) What in your view is the best film or documentary done on Johnson available, if there is one?

“None.  They all sensationalize the devil myth among other sins.”

(4) Aside from your book, what other books would you recommend?

“There is far less out there on Robert Johnson – who we all agree is a major cultural icon – than you might imagine.  Elijah Wald’s “Escaping the Delta” is quite good but has very little biographical information on Johnson.  It is more of a think piece on blues in general with some specifics about the influence of Johnson. ” Robert Johnson: Lost and Found” by Barry Lee Pearson and Bill McCulloch is worthy, but again has only a few chapters focusing on Robert Johnson’s life. Peter Guralnick’s book, “Searching for Robert Johnson,” was actually a magazine article printed up later in book form.  It’s mighty short, but does have good, solid information that was my own starting point.  Those three are it.”

(5) From your vantage point, why do you think Netflix would do something this off the mark, and have you heard from any other knowledgeable Johnson scribes about it?

“I haven’t heard from those authors named above, we aren’t really in touch, but I have heard from several blues scholars and blues aficionados.  They universally detest it.  As far as why would Netflix does this I suspect it is one of those things somebody ran up the flagpole and a bunch of millennials said “yeah, yeah, that’s cool, let’s do it.”  And they went to non-experts or questionable ones. Some of the musicians who are interviewed talk utter nonsense about Robert Johnson.  It’s like they are “peacocking” their answers for the benefit of the cameras.”

(6) I would assume you’d recommend that people NOT watch it?

“There is no good reason to watch it unless you are a complete novice and don’t have a clue about Robert Johnson.  Even then I’m not sure.”

(7) Have you thought about investigating the possibilities for having your book become the source material for an accurate Robert Johnson production?

“If you mean have I dreamt about it, sure.  I’d love for someone to float some money into my pocketbook and as I say I’m in the phonebook.”

(8) What do you consider an accurate assessment of Johnson’s musical and historical value?

“I think Guralnick’s book and the liner notes in the 1990 box set are the best.  Neither of them to me adequately addressed the other question about Robert Johnson beyond who was this man?  And that is, how did this unknown bluesman become the number one selling blues artist of all time?  That to me was just as valuable a story.”

 

IV – Review

A. Featured Local Musician – I

Ted Drozdowski

“Coyote Motel”

(Self released)

Guitarist/journalist Ted Drozdowski’s new release “Coyote Motel” offers an expanded and exciting musical portrait of his stylistic versatility. While he’s often used the blues as a launching pad for trips into other genres via the Scissormen, on this one Drozdowski explores everything from updated Delta blues to psychedelic licks, avant-garde edges, hard rocking riffs and jazzy licks. He manages all these genres adroitly, while being backed by equally talented players, most notably bassist and co-producer Sean Zywick and drummer Kyra Currenton. It’s also interesting to see the mix of topics that are explored, whether it’s the travel ethos of “Down in Chulahoma,” or the intense sensibilities of “Trouble,” and the suggestive fervor of “Los Alamos.” The band Coyote Motel is frenetic and adventurous, though some of this might be due as much to the session’s thematic variety, which is also evident in their treatment of the Bob Geddins’ number “Tin Pan Alley. There are other great tunes with more searing political edges like “Josh Gibson,” the musical chronicle of a great hitter who never got the wide showcase he deserved due to racist barriers preventing him from playing major league baseball. “Jimmy Brown” is another number that crackles both vocally and musically, while “My Friend” is a wonderful homage to the late soul/blues vocalist Sam McClain. Drozdoswki describes the dazzling idiomatic blend on “Coyote Motel” as “Evolutionary Cosmic Roots Music.” It’s an inspired blend of futuristic and traditional elements, and a memorable one as well.

B. Featured Local Musician II

Marty Brown

“American Highway”

(Plowboy)

It’s been far too long (1996) since Marty Brown had a new release.  But he’s hardly been inactive over that time. He’d built a good career as a songwriter, but thanks to an audition for “America’s Got Talent,” and a 2013 rendition of the Dylan tune “Make You Feel My Love” that got him to the program’s Top 10 ranks, it was clear Marty Brown still had a lot to say as a performer. “American Highway” will hopefully open some eyes and ears regarding the range and totality of his sound and style. While Brown’s certainly a traditional country vocalist, he’s always also been deeply influenced by the blues. Noted songwriter/guitarist Jon Tiven not only co-wrote many of the tunes with Brown, but also co-produced the release. The lead single “Umbrella Lovers,” features a strong, soaring vocal, with Brown providing excellent electric guitar accompaniment. It’s just one of the disc’s gems, with others including “Kentucky Blues,” “Shaking All Over The World,” “I’m On a Roll (Better Than It’s Ever Been)” and “Casino Winnebago.” The songs have heart, soul, flair and humor, while Brown sounds consistently resonant, energetic and joyful. “American Highway” is a most welcome return for Marty Brown.

C. Top Reissue

John Coltrane

“Coltrane 58”

(Craft/Prestige)

Here’s one that gets the classic split review. On the one hand much of this is fabulous music, and important because it was recorded during a formative period of Coltrane’s life. He was only with Prestige as a solo musician and bandleader for one year,’ but during that time cut several outstanding albums. The label only issued one during the year he was with them, “Soultrane” in 1958. They gradually issued the others once he became an icon. But there isn’t much to criticize about the music. Coltrane was working with giants like pianist Red Garland, trumpeters Donald Byrd and Freddie Hubbard, bassist Paul Chambers, guitarist Kenny Burrell and drummer Jimmy Cobb.  The only reason the release of this new set isn’t something to celebrate is it’s already been issued multiple times. The individual albums came first, then Prestige issued a 16-disc boxed set “The Prestige Recordings” back in 1991 that contained pretty much every cut Coltrane made for the company. Still, if you didn’t get them in any previous incarnation, this new version, which is available as either a five-disc CD or an eight-LP set, is certainly worth having. The thematic foundation’s pretty much hard bop, but you can hear the Coltrane sound being polished and perfected, most notably the “sheets of sound” phenomenon that the late Ira Gitler would later popularize. Any true Coltrane fanatic has already gotten these in one way or the other, but for those still learning about or being introduced to his music, this set is a fine beginning.

 

IV – Reviews

A – Featured local artist review 1 (Ted Drozdowski)

B – Featured local artist review 2 (Marty Brown)

C – Reissue of the month – Coltrane 58