John Coltrane: Mars
John Coltrane (tenor sax, bells)
Interstellar Space (Impulse 314 543 415 2)
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, N.J., February 22, 1967
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Photo by Herb Snitzer
Coltrane stripped his musical ideas to the bone with his final great album, Interstellar Space. A series of duets with the free drummer Rashied Ali, the record would become the sacred text for all other sax-drums pairings. Nothing resembling melody or rhythm exists here – just pure sound and thoughts, free of structure and constraints. Pure emotion, pure energy, pure reactions. For the open-minded, a song – song? – like “Mars” can be an enlightening experience. When he’s not honking away, Coltrane blows circular, repetitive phrases while Ali strikes skins and cymbals with little regard for their intended uses – a ride cymbal becomes a snare drum, a snare becomes a hi-hat. What was going through Coltrane’s mind when he came up with this? We’ll never know.
Reviewer: Steve Greenlee