John Coltrane: Nature Boy
John Coltrane (tenor sax)
The New Wave in Jazz (GRP Impulse! GRD-137)
Composed by Eden Ahbez.
Recorded: Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs NJ, March 6, 1963
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
Recorded just a day before Johnny Hartman joined the John Coltrane Quartet for some historic vocal jazz sessions, this combo tackles a standard made famous in 1948 by Nat King Cole. Using such a recognizable tune makes it easier to detect how much Coltrane’s concept had already evolved from when he famously tackled another well-known song “My Favorite Things” three years earlier. You can almost make a game out of listening to this song by trying catch the times Coltrane is playing the notes from its evocative melody that he randomly scatters amongst his familiar, vertical approach of improvising. Nearly as prominent as those “sheets of sound” are Jones’ “clouds of cymbals.” Tyner chooses chord voicings that synchronize more with the drums than with ‘Trane or the composition itself, but the rhythm section matches its leader in intensity.
Coltrane would go on to record “Nature Boy” again in 1965, and it became part of his live repertoire around that time. Given the philosophical and spiritual sentiment of the song, it isn’t hard to see why he was attracted to it. At the same time, he recast it in his own image, and it’s a powerful image at that.
Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron