To say tenor saxophonist John Coltrane’s contributions to jazz are immense is an understatement; in addition to that, he is widely known as one of the greatest innovators of his generation. In retrospect while examining the nature of his music, Coltrane’s artistic impressionism continues to be a subject of discussion well beyond his untimely death in 1967. Having played with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, Johnny Hartman and many others, Coltrane was able to take jazz to yet another level of improvised expertise as a leader with such memorable recordings as ‘Giant Steps, A Love Supreme, My Favorite Things, Kula Se Mama’ as a backdrop to a musical career worth reviewing. Most recently, yet another portrait of Coltrane was discovered, possibly archived for later delivery. Recorded on March 6, 1963, John Coltrane, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones came together to record an album entitled ‘Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album,’ one that took a day to make, was put away for more than five decades and recently discovered by the family of Juanita Naima Coltrane his first wife.
This new release features 7 signature tracks by John Coltrane, all of which will titillate the fancy of the most fervent fans of this musical genius. Released in June 2018, this recording represents a constant state of consistent evolution as described by Ravi Coltrane – his son, who narrates this effort as having “one foot in the past and one foot headed toward the future.” By Most extreme measures, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra had similar visions in their approach to jazz – each of them wanted to stretch their music beyond the obvious constraints of relevancy. They kept pushing and pulling their creative juices to levels unprecedented between the late 1950s and well into the 1960s; in fact, the whole idea of free jazz emulated from their unconventional efforts, transforming traditional beliefs as a measure of generational significance. In Coltrane’s case, his inferences were sharp and direct while cultivating intertwined melodies of his own creation. On ‘Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album’ the chemistry and spontaneity takes a giant step towards moving beyond the barriers of studio constraint, while also delivering the imagined portrayal of a live stage performance.
Recorded on the Impulse Record Label at New Jersey’s Rudy Van Gelder Studios mired by the constraints of a two-week stint at New York City’s famed Birdland, ‘Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album’ does reflect everything pertinent to Coltrane’s variation on jazz. Ravi Coltrane along with an executive from the label chose the order of the seven tracks cited by Juanita Coltrane’s discovery and tied with the timely additions of Garrison, Jones and Tyner, John Coltrane’s music continues to be just as relevant in the 21st century. The sheer effervescence of John Coltrane shines through as he and his band of merry men drives a wedge between those who believe in the purity of jazz and the naysayers who say jazz is dead.