John Coltrane: Blues to Elvin


Blues to Elvin


John Coltrane (tenor sax)


Coltrane Plays the Blues (Atlantic SD 1382)

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John Coltrane (tenor sax), McCoy Tyner (piano), Steve Davis (bass), Elvin Jones (drums).

Composed by John Coltrane


Recorded: New York, October 24, 1960


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

The first of six blues on Coltrane's album-length exploration of the form, "Blues to Elvin" begins with McCoy Tyner doing his best Floyd ("Last Date") Cramer impersonation on a slow, honky-tonk theme. Coltrane's improvisations here focus on the creation of cogent melody rather than boppish skeins of rhythmic and harmonic complexity. His playing is lyrically expressive, his tone surprisingly warm. This isn’t "sheets of sound" Coltrane, but rather Coltrane at his most direct, communicating without a hint of obfuscation. He's accompanied by two-thirds of what would be his regular rhythm section for the next several years: pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones are joined by short-timer Steve Davis on bass. Tyner and Jones are a good deal more reticent than they would become. Both defer to Coltrane more or less completely, though their playing is amply interesting and supportive. Coltrane is known for so many things, people sometimes forget he was one of jazz's great blues players. He's at his best here. No fireworks, just a straightforward blues—classic in its simplicity, devastatingly effective in its execution.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey


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