John Coltrane: Impressions




John Coltrane (tenor sax)


My Favorite Things: Coltrane at Newport (Impulse 9076)

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John Coltrane (tenor sax), McCoy Tyner (piano), Jimmy Garrison (bass), Roy Haynes (drums).

Composed by John Coltrane


Recorded: live at the Newport Jazz Festival, Rhode Island, July 7, 1963


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Throughout the lifespan of Coltrane's Classic Quartet, Roy Haynes was the first-call sub whenever Elvin Jones was unavailable. Coltrane spoke highly of Haynes, saying that he enjoyed the contrast of Haynes's "spreading" versus Jones's "driving." The shining moment of Trane/Haynes interaction occurs about halfway through this 20+ minute track, when Tyner and Garrison lay out, leading to an intense, extended tenor/drums duet.

There are two noteworthy elements. Haynes's ferociously defined drumming is first and foremost a revelation that, come 1960, his "non-technical" style had reached such a high level that it had become nothing short of virtuosic and, in its own right, technical. Just as young drummers need to get through all of the standard rudiments in order to duplicate the playing of Max Roach, Haynes had introduced a whole other world of musical "licks" that can be practiced and studied in addition to the standard rudimental fare. Just about any Haynes lick one can imagine may be found inside this whirlwind performance, including the famed "did it 'n did it 'n did it 'n did it" rhythm quick triplets in which the first two are played with either hand and the third with one of his feet. Just say the "did it 'n" phrase fast enough and you will hear it!

Second, listen to how playing with Haynes alters Coltrane's sound. He is bubblier and more rhythmically playful than usual, if a bit less gutturally powerful yet this makes perfect sense, given the difference in drum styles. One can say that Haynes exposes some of Coltrane's bebop roots, which, considering Trane's experimental progression in the '60s, results in a passionate and historically striking performance.

Note: My reference above to "non-technical" is no knock on Haynes, who himself acknowledges that he initially didn't base his playing around the common drumming rudiments. It's the rawness and directness of his musical thought sans extended rudimental training that gives him an earthy musicality never before heard from a jazz drummer of his caliber.)

Reviewer: Eric Novod

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