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Coltrane's 'miracle' of jazz improvisation


John Coltrane, "Chasing Trane: Original Soundtrack" (Impulse)

With the release of  John Scheinfeld's precious biographical documentary, people everywhere can see intimate family sides of Coltrane's personality and life  that we never have imagined we'd ever see. It is, for that reason, an amazing bio-doc.

Along with it, of course, comes this recorded soundtrack of the film, which is full of classic Coltrane, all glorious but in a couple of cases truncated early in the tracks the way they're used in the film. No matter. So many of his greatest performances are here--most notably the 16-minute 1961 epochal performance at the Village Vanguard that gave the film its title. It is on that performance that Coltrane awakened jazz saxophonists to an entirely fresh way to construct free jazz solos without even threatening to get lost. It was a master musician showing lesser musicians how it's done while keeping musicianship and personality intact and not sacrificing solidity for the sake of energy. It remains one of the miracles of jazz improvisation.

3 1/2 stars (out of four)


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