This is my fourth review (1, 2, 3) in a series of releases from Prestige Records that feature remastered versions of his own originals by legendary sound engineer Rudy Van Gelder, and in this instance we’re listening to tenor sax immortal John Coltrane teamed with the Red Garland Trio.
The title of the album is Traneing In, and the original recordings were made in 1957 when Coltrane was between stints with Miles Davis and was soon to join up with Thelonious Monk. These recordings give listeners a good feel for Coltrane’s style during the early years of his short career, which ended prematurely with his death at age 40 in 1967, but nevertheless encompassed a number of different sounds that included everything from bebop to avant-garde.
The members of the Red Garland trio, which included Garland on piano, Arthur Taylor on drums and bassist Paul Chambers, get plenty of time on this album, even if Trane was the nominal star. In fact, the first cut, “Traneing In”, starts with Garland playing for almost four minutes before Trane even makes an appearance. Of course, when a song is over 12 minutes long, there’s plenty of time for everyone.
The second cut, “Slow Dance”, is just that – slow – although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and after a lethargic start it picks up a little with some soft, moody work by Trane. That’s followed by “Bass Blues”, showcasing bassist Chambers in ways you seldom hear in a jazz work — both pizzicato and bowing.
My favorite on the album would have to be the ballad, “You Leave Me Breathless”, which includes some sweet upper register playing by Trane, a beautiful and unusual sound for him. The album closes with “Soft Lights And Sweet Music”, which sounds like it would be more of the same but is actually harder-edged and more of a pure bebop sound, at least to my ear.
A mixed verdict on this album — lots of good music from the early stages of a legendary jazz musician, and important as a snapshot of where he was musically at that time, but possibly not to everyone’s tastes.