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Monday, October 13, 2008


320 KBPS

"Live In Japan" is a mammoth 4-disc set which documents John Coltrane's first and only concert tour in that country. The occasion took place in July 1966 (exactly one year before Coltrane's untimely death) and this was during the time in which Coltrane's music was at its most free-form, experimental and arguably most innovative. Coltrane's musician personnel had shifted as well. The previous year, drummer Elvin Jones and pianist McCoy Tyner had left and were replaced respectively by Rashied Ali and Coltrane's wife Alice. Also joining Coltrane is second saxophonist Pharoah Sanders who made his debut with the dynamic leader on the earth-shattering free-for-all "Ascension". Bassist Jimmy Garrison was the only long-term member of the ensemble to still be in Coltrane's group. Also of interest is the fact that these Japanese concerts find Coltrane (as well as Sanders) performing on alto sax in addition to the unsual tenor and soprano.
As for the music itself, it is loaded with fierce improvisational chops with the ensemble stretching the music to its outer limits. The idea of releasing an album of this material was not initially planned in 1966 so, Coltrane and his group of players took the music into an area of no boundaries or limits whatsoever. Although this set may take a few listens to fully digest, it doesn't take long before the listener is completely emmersed in the music.
Musical standouts in this 4-disc set are as follows:
Afro Blue: Pharoah Sanders' shrieking tenor solo and Coltrane's nearly 20-minute solo on soprano sax which closes the piece.
Peace on Earth (Version 1): Alice Coltrane's beautiful piano solo and John and Pharoah's tenor duet.
Crescent: Jimmy Garrison's extended bass introduction and another standout piano lead from Alice.
Peace on Earth (Version 2): Pharaoh's excellent alto sax spotlight.
Leo: Pharoah's ferocious alto solo, Rashied Ali's extended drum feature, John and Pharoah's catfighting alto duel.
My Favorite Things: Another great extended Garrison bass intro, John performing the melody on alto sax as well as an extended soprano solo in the middle, a flowing piano solo from Alice and another sax duel from John and Pharoah.
"Live In Japan" isn't recommended for a first-time Coltrane listener. However, this is definitely an essential purchase once you've studied his other musical periods and have made it to this, his final period of pure musical exploration. It also should be noted that all of the music in this set was recorded in mono. Despite this, the sound quality is excellent and every musician comes through sharp and clear.
This is late-period Coltrane at its very best!!!
Disc 1
1. Afro Blue
2. Peace On Earth

Disc 2
1. Crescent

Disc 3
1. Peace On Earth
2. Leo

Disc 4
1. My Favorite Things

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