John Coltrane: Little Old Lady


Little Old Lady


John Coltrane (tenor sax)


Coltrane Jazz (Atlantic CD 1354)

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John Coltrane (tenor sax), Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums).

Composed by Hoagy Carmichael & Stanley Adams


Recorded: New York, November 24, 1959


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

A sprightly, major key tune that lives up to the spirit of its title, "Little Old Lady" is more reminiscent of what John Coltrane had played with Miles Davis than with the direction he'd recently taken on his previous Atlantic album, the more determinedly innovative (and personal) Giant Steps. Yet he does a good job here, inhabiting the jaunty, medium-tempo tune with requisite optimism and good humor. Coltrane had only months earlier recorded "Giant Steps"—his definitive "sheets of sound" performance—so it's interesting to hear him scale back his preoccupation with complex harmonies and approach a tune with a relatively unadorned, playfully melodic style. Contributing to the Miles-ian air is the Kelly/Chambers/Cobb rhythm section, with whom Coltrane had worked in the Davis band. Chambers is especially fine, contributing the type of virtuosic bass solo that we take for granted today but which was extremely uncommon in 1959. Kelly comps with characteristic bounce in his step, and Cobb plays with his usual tastefully swinging flair. Coltrane was manifestly comfortable with this group … perhaps too comfortable. The performance demonstrates how Coltrane had still not completely broken away from Miles's late-'50s style. Recorded during a period of transition, this performance represented conceptually a small step backward for Coltrane. Perhaps he felt the need to catch his breath, in preparation for the changes to come. Certainly it wouldn't be long before his vision would reach full flower.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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