John Coltrane: Afro Blue
John Coltrane (tenor sax)
Live at Birdland (Impulse IMPD-198)
Composed by Mongo Santamaria.
Recorded: live at Birdland, New York, October 8, 1963
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Everything changed during the tenure of the Classic Coltrane Quartet. The separation between leader and rhythm section members was completely and utterly blurred after Coltrane and Elvin Jones began interacting. Soloists had a clear decision to make after Trane/Elvin – either they wanted a drummer to push them to extremes, or they wanted to go in a completely different direction. Anything in between, from the mid-'60s on, would forever be viewed as a diluted imitation of Trane/Elvin. McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison are also keys here, of course – they created a building style (with McCoy's use of block chords and Garrison's careful use of repeated notes) that perfectly intensified as Coltrane and Elvin began their ascension. "Afro Blue" contains all the above, and more: classic Trane/Elvin encounters, McCoy/Garrison builds, the never-ending blurring of barlines, and the tightrope walk between straight and swung Latin rhythms.
Reviewer: Eric Novod
Tags: 1960s jazz