John Coltrane: Summertime
John Coltrane (tenor sax)
My Favorite Things (Atlantic 1361)
Composed by George Gershwin & DuBose Heyward.
Recorded: New York, October 24, 1960
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
From the first note of this recording, you can tell that Coltrane's version of "Summertime" will be unique. Without any introduction, Coltrane kicks off the tune in D minor. While jazz versions of "Summertime" are played in a variety of keys, D minor sounds higher than the keys we usually hear for this song. When the rhythm section enters two beats later, the effect is complete, with Elvin Jones's slashing rhythms and McCoy Tyner's syncopated quartal harmonies. As on the album's title tune, Coltrane and Tyner reduce "Summertime" to a minimal modal harmonic base and focus on building emotional intensity. Dating from early in the Quartet's existence, this performance is not as intense as later recordings, but it shows that the group already knew which direction it would travel.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe