John Coltrane: Naima
Giant Steps (Rhino/Atlantic R2 75203)
Composed by John Coltrane.
Recorded: New York, December 2, 1959
Rating: 99/100 (learn more)
1959 was jazz’s magical year – with Trane, Ornette, Evans, Mingus, and Miles issuing their clarion calls – and here is one reason why. First, it’s a gorgeous piece of writing – how many times has “Naima” been covered over the years? – and, second, it is played with great patience and restraint. The tune runs only 4 minutes 21 seconds, but the quartet is in no rush to get there. In mood, “Naima” shares traits with Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue album, on which Coltrane played a key role just months earlier, but this is a very different piece of work, because there’s a real melody here. The rhythm section holds back while Coltrane blows simple, unadorned passages that haunt, and pianist Wynton Kelly delivers a touching solo of his own. Once while listening to this song, pay attention only to bassist Paul Chambers’ thump-thump- thumping. It’s quite revealing.
Reviewer: Steve Greenlee