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Listening Post: A Coltrane classic finally complete, cellist Matt Haimovitz and 1985 movie music


John Coltrane, “A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters” (Impulse/UM, 3-discs). One of the great jazz reissues of the year and for good reason. 51 years ago this coming Wednesday (Dec.9), Coltrane’s classic quartet went into the studio to record their best-selling and most famous album. “A Love Supreme.” Not only does the three-disc version of this set present a July 1965 live performance of Coltrane’s quartet masterpiece in Antibes that was available only briefly in 2002, it adds along with it, for the first time ever, never before released versions of its opening “Acknowledgement” movement which added bassist Art Davis and tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp to Coltrane’s original “classic” quartet. What you get in the three disc edition is the original classic record, all of the outtakes and that magnificent live version from Antibes. It is a huge paradox about the latter that Coltrane’s greatest music that was first heard live is best heard on record. In other words, the art of sound mix was simply not developed for live performances of Coltrane’s greatest music with the result that Elvin Jones’ drums tended to obliterate almost everything– certainly bassist Jimmy Garrison but often pianist McCoy Tyner too and even Coltrane himself on tenor saxophone (one reason why he increased his playing of the higher-voiced soprano.) Recorded versions of Coltrane live, though, gave listeners the balance they needed and craved. They’re so often magnificent – “Chasin’ the Trane” live at the Village Vanguard, for example. Their live performance of “A Love Supreme” in Antibes is very great indeed. With the classic original disc and the previously unreleased music with Archie Shepp and Art Davis added to the band, this is manna from heaven for the most serious jazz listeners. It is, for them, an almost compulsory full portrait of a masterpieces – what led to it and followed from it. The liner notes by Ashley Kahn are exactly what such a disc should have – not to mention Carlos Santana’s confession of initially not knowing what he was listening to. A great example of what disc-making is still all about. Four stars. (Jeff Simon)


Matt Haimovitz, “Orbit: Music for Solo Cello 1945-2014” (Pentatone, three discs). From 2003 to 2011, cellist Matt Haimovitz released five thematic discs on his own Oxingale label – “Anthem,” “Goulash!,” “After Reading Shakespeare,” “Figment” and “Matteo.” These three discs encompass, says Haimovitz “nearly all of the solo contemporary works on these albums along with two newly recorded tracks: Philip Glass’ ‘Orbit’ and a new arrangement by [Luna Pearl Woolf] of the Beatles’ ‘Helter Skelter.’....More than 20 composers are represented in the set, 15 of them still living. Ten works receive their world premiere recording here.” Haimovitz is something of a classical cello evangelist, performing in almost any attentive venue that will have him. His passionate involvement – analogous, in a different way, to that of Yo Yo Ma – is evident on all of this music, whether he’s playing music by Glass, Golijov, Berio, Ligeti, Twining, Elliott Carter, Luigi Dallapiccola, Ned Rorem, Paul Moravec, the Beatles or Jimi Hendrix. His notes to this full and marvelous demonstration disc are splendid. Three and a half stars. (Jeff Simon)

Movie Music

1985 At The Movies performed by the Varese Sarabande Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Newman (Varese Sarabande, six discs). So what’s so special about 1985 at the movies? The movies now don’t all seem to be that hot – “The Goonies,” “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “Legend,” “Return to Oz,” “Cocoon,” “A View to a Kill.” “Silverado,” “Rambo.” Maybe so but the music to those movies was often better than the movies – a familiar paradox of movie music. Bruce Broughton’s music for “Silverado,” for instance is so good that you wish Lawrence Kasdan had contrived a Western to be worthy of it. Buffalo-raised David Shire’s end music for “Return to Oz” should also have been married to a far better movie. The music by the great John Barry for “A View to a Kill” and, especially, Sydney Pollack’s “Out of Africa” actually matches film and soundtrack, but then that’s so often the Barry way. The suite from Michael Kamen’s music for Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” is on its own nicely hallucinatory. And how about that “Rambo” huh? Not Jerry Goldsmith’s finest hour (for that, hear “The Blue Max”) but it’s a living, you know? Three stars. (Jeff Simon)