John Coltrane & Don Cherry – The Avant-Garde (1960)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Avant-Garde is an album credited to jazz musicians John Coltrane and Don Cherry that was released in 1966 by Atlantic Records. It features Coltrane playing several compositions by Ornette Coleman accompanied by the members of Coleman’s quartet: Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Ed Blackwell. The album was assembled from two unissued recording sessions at Atlantic Studios in New York City in 1960.

Ornette Coleman attended the Lenox School of Jazz in 1959 with Don Cherry as his private instructor. His education was sponsored by Atlantic Records. Coleman had a revolutionary sound that deviated from conventional jazz (apparent by the lack of harmonies). Despite his deviations, Coleman retained the basic key and common time of traditional jazz. In 1953, he met drummer Ed Blackwell, who is featured on the album.

John Coltrane studied with Coleman, and they frequently played together but never made an album together. The Avant-Garde is a result of their mutual respect and friendship. Coltrane, Coleman, and Cherry played together in ensembles as they explored new ways of playing jazz. With this album Coltrane contributed to the formation of free jazz through his “modal school of improvisation”. “The Blessing” is the first time he recorded on soprano saxophone.

“Focus on Sanity” was recorded in Los Angeles, California, on May 2, 1959. “Cherryco” was recorded in 1960 under the title “Untitled Opus #1”. The title was considered a play on words with the name “Cherokee”, though the style of the song has nothing to do with the name. Some of the tapes are missing from the song and “are presumed lost”.

“The Invisible” was performed and recorded for Coleman’s album Something Else!!!! which was released in 1958. According to Claire O’Neal, author of Ornette Coleman, this song “pokes fun at traditional musical structure, featuring a tonal center that hides from the listener”.[4] The first song on the album, it lets the audience know that Coleman was ready to “leave musical concepts of keys, chords and melodies behind.”

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“The Blessing” was another piece that appeared on Something Else!!!!. John Litweiler, author of Ornette Coleman: The Harmolodic Life, mentions Don Cherry’s comments about the “plastic alto” and how it has a “warmer, drier sound than a metal alto” and with this it makes Coleman’s “bent notes so effective”.

Reviewer Chris Kesley calls Coltrane’s approach to the tune “restrained”.

The Avant-Garde is one of seven albums that Coltrane recorded for Atlantic between 1959 and 1962. The free jazz style of the album was considered controversial and “lacking the necessary discipline to represent America’s art form.”

This new jazz composition by Coleman features surprising rhythmic accents, asymmetrical melodic phrases, and the incorporation of brass instruments and drums into the melody of the song. A unique feature of this album is its lack of pianist and usage of brass instruments to carry each piece. Also, Cherry and Coltrane complement each other with contrasting sound as Coltrane “leaps into [the music] like a man possessed, while Cherry answers with a feathery tone.” (Larkin)

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This album is rightfully co-credited to Don Cherry (trumpet), who ably trades blows with John Coltrane (tenor/soprano sax) throughout. The Avant-Garde also boasts the debut studio recording of Coltrane playing soprano sax — on “The Blessing” — in addition to his continuing advancements on tenor. Although these tracks were recorded during the summer of 1960, they remained shelved for nearly six years. Joining Coltrane and Cherry are essentially the rest of the members of the Ornette Coleman Quartet, Ed Blackwell (drums) and Charlie Haden (bass) on “Cherryco” and “The Blessing,” as well as Percy Heath (bass) on the remaining three selections. This is fitting, as over half of the album consists of early Coleman compositions. Coltrane’s integration into this band works with some extraordinarily fresh results. Neither Cherry nor Coltrane makes any radical departures on this album; however, it’s the ability of each to complement the other both in terms of modal style and — perhaps more importantly — texture that lends heavily to the success of these sides. Cherry’s brisk and somewhat nasal intonations on “The Blessing” mimic those of Miles Davis, albeit with shorter flourishes and heavily improvised lines. When combined with Coltrane’s well-placed — if not somewhat reserved — solos, the mutual value of both is dramatically increased. Blackwell — the only other musician besides Cherry and Coltrane to be featured on every track — provides some non-conventional percussive accompaniment. His contributions to “The Blessing” and workout on the aptly titled “Focus on Sanity” are primal. (by Lindsay Planer)

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Personnel:
Ed Blackwell (drums)
Don Cherry (cornet)
John Coltrane (saxophone)
Percy Heath (bass)
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Charlie Haden (bass on 01. + 03.)

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Tracklist:
01. Cherryco (Cherry) 6.48
02. Focus On Sanity (Coleman) 12.14
03. The Blessing (Coleman) 7.52
04. The Invisible (Coleman) 4.11
05. Bemsha Swing (Monk/Best) 5.03

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Various Artists – A Coltrane Serenade (1991)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra is probably too big and bulky to be considered a tight unit but all the players are individually of distinction. Mainly their program is to highlight and celebrate the giants of jazz from yesteryear. They have performed and recorded music by Ellington, big band swing and numerous others.

To celebrate John Coltrane, the “house band” of Todd Williams, Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, Christian McBride, Billy Higgins and Wes Andersen are supplemented by guests Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner and Roy Haynes.

This is a very comfortable way to get into Coltrane as the music here are among his most accessible. Dear Lord is taken at a lounge-y pace, with enough soloing to make this jazz. Coltrane’s explosive, experiential side is gently avoided. The final track Mr Symes is a sweet ballad.

Almost 40 years after his passing, John Coltrane’s best work remains A Love Supreme which hopefully any self-respecting jazz fan has in his collection. (Professor Red)

What a great celebration for Mr. John Coltrane !

Jazz At Lincoln Centre, Alice Tully Hall, New York, August 9, 1991
Excellent braodcast recording

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Personnel:

Tracks 01. – 03.
Wes Andersen (saxophone)
Billy Higgins (drums)
Wynton Marsalis (trumpet)
Christian McBride (bass)
Marcus Roberts (piano)
Todd Williams (saxophone)

Tracks 04. – 05.
Christian McBride (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)
Joe Henderson (saxophone)
Charles McPherson (saxophone)
McCoy Tyner (piano)
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Reginald Veal (bass on 05.)

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Tracklist:
01. Mr. Day 8.23
02. Miles Mode 8.32
03. Tunji  8.06
04. Dear Lord  7.50
05. Mr Symes/Dahomey Dance  24.37

Music composed by John Coltrane

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John Coltrane – Live At The Village Vanguard … The Master Takes (1962 + 1998)

OriginalFrontCover1.jpgColtrane “Live” at the Village Vanguard is the tenth album by jazz musician John Coltrane and his first live album, released in 1962 on Impulse Records, catalogue A-10. It is the first album to feature the members of the classic quartet of himself with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones. In contrast to his previous album for Impulse!, this one generated much turmoil among both critics and audience alike with its challenging music.

In 1961, Coltrane created controversy both with the hiring of Eric Dolphy and with the kind of music his band was playing. In reaction to the Quintet’s residency at the Village Vanguard in New York City starting in late October 1961, Down Beat critic John Tynan described the group as “musical nonsense being peddled in the name of jazz” and “a horrifying demonstration of what appears to be a growing anti-jazz trend.” European critics and audiences also had difficulty with appearances earlier in the year, finding the group’s music, especially that of Coltrane and Dolphy, puzzling and difficult to follow. Down Beat magazine editor Don DeMichael took the step of inviting the pair to defend themselves, a piece appearing in the April 12, 1962 issue entitled “John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy Answer the Critics”.

It was the idea of new producer Bob Thiele to record Coltrane live over four nights in early November, Thiele meeting the saxophonist for the first time face-to-face at the club.[5] This commenced a close working relationship between Thiele and Coltrane that would last for the rest of his time at Impulse, Thiele producing virtually every subsequent album. Thiele secured Coltrane’s trust right away by not insisting he record his most popular song, “My Favorite Things”, during these shows. Sound engineer Rudy Van Gelder set up his equipment at a table by the stage, and for these concerts Coltrane often enhanced the Quintet by adding tampura, contrabassoon, oboe, or a second bass.

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Three performances were chosen for the album, one a pop standard and a second entitled “Spiritual”, possibly an adaptation of “Nobody Knows de Trouble I See” published in The Book of American Negro Spirituals by James Weldon Johnson. The third selection, the blues “Chasin’ the Trane”, has been described as one of the most important recordings in jazz for its seeming ability to unify the approaches of free jazz, jamming, and neoclassicism. As to its genesis, in a 1966 interview Coltrane recalled that he had “listened to John Gilmore kind of closely before I made ‘Chasin the Trane’.”

The performances are quintet for “Spiritual”, quartet for “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise”, and trio for “Chasin’ the Trane”. These were Reggie Workman’s final recordings with the group, as by December 1961 Garrison was announced as his replacement, stabilizing a line-up that would remain constant for the next four years.

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Pursuant to the article by Coltrane and Dolphy, for the following April 26 issue Down Beat presented two reviews of Live! at the Village Vanguard, both focusing on “Chasin’ the Trane”. Pete Welding described it as “a torrential and anguished outpouring, delivered with unmistakable power, conviction, and near-demonic ferocity.”[16] On the other hand, Ira Gitler, who had coined the phrase “sheets of sound”, stated that “Coltrane may be searching for new avenues of expression, but if it is going to take this form of yawps, squawks, and countless repetitive runs, then it should be confined to the woodshed.”

Two additional recordings taken from these shows appeared on the album Impressions, “Impressions” and “India”. On September 23, 1997, Impulse! issued a box set The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings, with the sets from all four nights chronologically on four compact Discs (later this year in this blog !). (by wikipedia)

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This set documents the four-night stand by John Coltrane (sax) and his quintet at the Village Vanguard in New York City, November 1 — 5, 1961. Although these are not newly discovered tapes — as the majority of the selections have turned up on no less than five separate releases — their restoration is significant in assessing motifs in Coltrane’s [read: multi-show] live appearances. Coltrane is accompanied by an all-star ensemble of Eric Dolphy (alto sax/bass clarinet), Garvin Bushell (oboe/contrabassoon), Ahmed Abdul-Malik (oud), McCoy Tyner (piano), Jimmy Garrison (bass), Reggie Workman (bass), Elvin Jones (drums), and Roy Haynes (drums). Their presence is as equally vital as Coltrane’s — inspiring as well as informing the dimensions of improvisation. With the knowledge that the entire run was being documented to create some sort of retail document, Coltrane chose nine specific compositions to concentrate on. The choice of material likewise had a tremendous impact on the personnel of the band — evidenced by Bushnell’s contributions during “Spiritual” and Abdul-Malik’s within the context of the extended “India.” (by Lindsay Planer)

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Personnel:
John Coltrane (saxophone)
Eric Dolphy (clarinet on 01. + 04,)
Jimmy Garrison (bass on 03.  + 05.)

Elvin Jones (drums)
McCoy Tyner (piano)
Reggie Workman (bass on 01., 02. + 04.)

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Tracklist:
01. Spiritual (Coltrane) 13.48
02. Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise (Romberg/Hammerstein) 6.40
03. Chasin’ The Trane (Coltrane) 16.10
04. India (Coltrane) 14.03
05. Impressions (Coltrane) 14.53

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John Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967)

Various Artists – Tenor Sax Ballads (Priceless Jazz Collection) (1999)

FrontCover1GRP has cobbled together a set of performances from labels it now has under its umbrella, such as Impulse and Cadet, as well as from albums released under its own name. There’s no intent here to put together a survey of the development of the tenor saxophone. Rather, this album is an unabashed effort to attract those who celebrate good tenor sax playing in general, and ballad sax in particular — and it works. If there were a hall of fame for tenor sax players, all the performers present on this disc would have been inaugural inductees. Coleman Hawkins, the first true tenor sax improviser, is represented with “Solitude” and “Mood Indigo” from the memorable recording he made with Duke Ellington; an added treat on “Solitude” is the fine violin playing of Ray Nance. John Coltrane’s inimitable ballad style is put on display with “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “It’s Easy to Remember,” an effort by the Impulse label to make Coltrane more “popular” with jazz fans. The playing of the tenor saxophone’s psalm, “Body and Soul,” is awarded to Paul Gonsalves, who follows the improvisational path that Hawkins took on his 1939 recording. Ben Webster, James Moody, Sonny Stitt, Illinois Jacquet, and the soul-laden horn of Stanley Turrentine are also present.

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Turrentine’s rendition of “Deep Purple” is a highlight of the album, as is Jacquet’s languid rendering of “You’re My Thrill.” A priceless set of performances by major practitioners of the tenor saxophone. Heartily recommended. (by Dave Nathan)

If you love tenor sax and music from the ’40s and ’50s and prefer melody, this is the CD for you.

It´s time to discover all these great jazz musicins from the past … timeless music !

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Tracklist:
01. Ben Webster: Stardust (Carmichael/Parish) 2.27
02. Duke Ellington & Coleman Hawkins: Solitude (DeLange/Ellington /Mills) 5.54
03. John Coltrane: You Don’t Know What Love Is (DePaul/Raye) 5.15
04. Paul Gonsalves: Body And Soul (Eyton/Green/Heyman/Sour) 5.27
05. Sonny Stitt: I’m Getting Sentimental Over You (Bassman/Washington) 4.18
06. Duke Ellington: Single Petal Of A Rose (Webster) 3.21
07. Stanley Turrentine: Deep Purple (DeRose/Parish) 4.51
08. Duke Ellington & Coleman Hawkins:  Mood Indigo (Bigard/Ellington/Mills) 5.58
09. John Coltrane:  It’s Easy to Remember (Hart/Rodgers) 2.48
10. Illinois Jacquet: You’re My Thrill (Gorney/Lane/Washington) 3.50
11. Ben Webster: Over The Rainbow (Arlen/Harburg) 4.45
12. James Moody: Don’t Blame Me (Fields/McHugh) 4.31

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Stanley Turrentine

Thelonious Monk – With John Coltrane (1961)

FrontCover1Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane is a 1961 album by Thelonious Monk issued on Jazzland Records, a subsidiary of Riverside Records. It consists of material recorded four years earlier when Monk worked extensively with John Coltrane, issued after Coltrane had become a leader and jazz star in his own right.

The album was assembled by the label with material from three different sessions. The impetus for the album was the discovery of three usable studio tracks recorded by the Monk Quartet with Coltrane in July 1957 at the beginning of the band’s six-month residency at New York’s legendary Five Spot club near Cooper Square. To round out the release, producer Keepnews included two outtakes from the Monk’s Music album recorded the previous month, and an additional outtake from Thelonious Himself recorded in April.[6] The latter selection, “Functional,” is a solo piano piece by Monk.

It was reissued in 2000 on Fantasy Records as part of its series for back catalogue using the JVC 20-bit K2 coding system. Because of the historical significance of this album it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007.

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Universally regarded as one of the greatest collaborations between the two most influential musicians in modern jazz (Miles Davis notwithstanding), the Jazzland sessions from Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane should be recognized on other levels. While the mastery of the principals is beyond reproach, credit should also be given to peerless bassist Wilbur Ware, as mighty an anchor as anyone could want. These 1957 dates also sport a variety in drummerless trio, quartet, septet, or solo piano settings, all emphasizing the compelling and quirky compositions of Monk. A shouted-out, pronounced “Off Minor” and robust, three-minute “Epistrophy” with legendary saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Gigi Gryce, and the brilliant, underappreciated trumpeter Ray Copeland are hallmark tracks that every jazz fan should revere. Of the four quartet sessions, the fleet “Trinkle Tinkle” tests Coltrane’s mettle, as he’s perfectly matched alongside Monk, but conversely unforced during “Nutty” before taking off. Monk’s solo piano effort,

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“Functional,” is flavored with blues, stride, and boogie-woogie, while a bonus track, “Monk’s Mood,” has a Monk-Ware-Coltrane tandem (minus drummer Shadow Wilson) back for an eight-minute excursion primarily with Monk in a long intro, ‘Trane in late, and Ware’s bass accents booming through the studio. This will always be an essential item standing proudly among unearthed live sessions from Monk and Coltrane, demarcating a pivotal point during the most significant year in all types of music, from a technical and creative standpoint, but especially the jazz of the immediate future. (by Michael G. Nastos)

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Personnel:
John Coltrane (saxophone)
Thelonious Monk — piano
Wilbur Ware (bass)
Shadow Wilson (drums)
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Art Blakey — drums on 03. + 05.)
Ray Copeland (trumpet on 03. + 06.)
Gigi Gryce (saxophone on 03. + 06.)
Coleman Hawkins (saxophone on 03, + 06.)

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Tracklist:
01. Ruby, My Dear (Monk)  5.22
02. Trinkle, Tinkle (Monk) 6.41
03. Off Minor (Monk) 5.16
04. Nutty (Monk) 6.39
05. Epistrophy (Clarke/Monk) 3.10
06. Functional (Monk) 8.42

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Duke Ellington & John Coltrane – Same (1963)

FrontCover1Duke Ellington & John Coltrane is a jazz album by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane recorded on September 26, 1962, and released in February 1963 on Impulse! Records.
It was one of Ellington’s many collaborations in the early 1960s with musicians such as Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Max Roach, and Charles Mingus, and placed him with a quartet (in this case, saxophone, piano, bass, and drums), rather than a big band.

Coltrane played in a more accessible style during this time, on albums such as John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman and Ballads. Despite their differences in background, style, and age – Ellington was 63 and Coltrane 36 when the tracks were recorded – it has been said[by whom?] that the two interacted seamlessly.
The quartet was filled out by the bassist and drummer from either of their bands. The album featured Ellington standards (e.g., “In a Sentimental Mood”), new Ellington compositions, and a new Coltrane composition (“Big Nick”).

Coltrane said:
I was really honoured to have the opportunity of working with Duke. It was a wonderful experience. He has set standards I haven’t caught up with yet. I would have liked to have worked over all those numbers again, but then I guess the performances wouldn’t have had the same spontaneity. And they mightn’t have been any better! (by wikipedia)
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John Coltrane & Duke Ellington
The classic 1962 album Duke Ellington & John Coltrane showcased the rising jazz saxophone innovator performing alongside the long-established piano institution. While the pairing might have portended a dynamic clash of the musical generations, instead we got a casual, respectful, and musically generous meeting of like-minded souls. Similarly, while one might have assumed that Ellington would use his sidemen, instead producer Bob Thiele (who also produced similar albums for Ellington including pairings with Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins) chose to bring in Coltrane’s own outfit for the proceedings. Consequently, the duo is backed here at various times by bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones, as well as alternates bassist Aaron Bell and drummer Sam Woodyard. The most surprising aspect of the Ellington/Coltrane date is how well suited Coltrane and his group are at playing what largely ends up being Ellington’s own material. While he was certainly in the nascency of his more avant-garde period in 1962, Coltrane had a deep understanding of traditional jazz vocabulary, having played in a swing band in the Navy in the 1940s and studied the style of artists like Hawkins and Ben Webster while coming up in Philadelphia.

Similarly, though an icon of the big-band era by the 1960s, Ellington had been on the upswing of a career resurgence ever since his dynamic performance at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, later released as Ellington at Newport. His meeting with Coltrane was emblematic of his renewed creativity and was one of several albums he recorded in his latter life with theretofore unexpected artists, not the least of which his other 1962 date, Money Jungle with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach.

Here, Ellington and Coltrane play a handful of well-known Ellington book numbers, including a supremely lyrical “In a Sentimental Mood” and a soulful, half-lidded version of Billy Strayhorn’s “My Little Brown Book.” Ellington even supplied the brisk original “Take the Coltrane,” allowing plenty of room for Coltrane to let loose with knotty, angular lines. (by Matt Collar)

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Personnel:
Aaron Bell (bass on 01., 04., 05. + 07.)
John Coltrane (saxophone)
Duke Ellington (piano)
Jimmy Garrison (bass on 02., 03. + 06.)
Elvin Jones (drums on  01. – 03. +  06.)
Sam Woodyard (drums on 04., 05. +  07.)

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Tracklist:
01. In A Sentimental Mood (Ellington) 4.14
02. Take The Coltrane (Ellington) 4.42
03. Big Nick (Coltrane) 4.30
04. Stevie (Ellington) 4.22
05. My Little Brown Book (Strayhorn) 5.20
06. Angelica (Ellington) 6.00
07. The Feeling Of Jazz (Troup/Ellington/Simon) 5.34
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John Coltrane – Newport (1961)

FrontCover1For the sake of accuracy though, there was no 1961 Newport Jazz Festival. Seriously. This Coltrane recording is from “Music At Newport, an entirely different one-off event that happened in Newport that summer. Here’s a basic synopsis of what happened (from the Newport Jazz Festival wiki). You can also read about it in depth in George Wein’s highly recommended autobiography.”

In 1960 boisterous spectators created a major disturbance, and the National Guard was called to the scene. Word that the disturbances had meant the end of the festival, following the Sunday afternoon blues presentation headlined by Muddy Waters, reached poet Langston Hughes, who was in a meeting on the festival grounds. Hughes wrote an impromptu lyric, “Goodbye Newport Blues,” that he brought to the Muddy Waters band onstage, announcing their likewise impromptu musical performance of the piece himself, before pianist Otis Spann led the band and sang the Hughes poem.

Presentation of the proper Newport Jazz Festival was disallowed in 1961 due to the difficulty of the previous year’s festival.  In its place, another festival billed as “Music at Newport” was produced by Sid Bernstein in cooperation with a group of Newport businessmen. That festival included a number of jazz musicians but was financially unsuccessful. Bernstein announced that he would not seek to return to Newport in 1962. The Newport Jazz Festival resumed at Freebody Park in 1962. (Stu Hanson)

Thanks to Maurizio (u014945) for sharing these tracks on Dime

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Personnel:
John Coltrane (saxophone)
Art Davis (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)
McCoy Tyner (piano)
Reggie Workman (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Introductions 1.24
02. Impressions (Coltrane) 6.10
03. Naima (Coltrane) 4.11
04. My Favorite Things (Rodgers/Hammerstein) 15.59

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