May 5, 2013

John Coltrane: Live! at the Village Vanguard (1962)

One of the things that fascinate me the most when writing about modern jazz, is reexamining the music and comparing my initial reaction upon my own discovery of the music, with that of the critical and fan reaction at the time of its original release.

I remember it well, the first time I heard "Chasin' the Train" from Live! At the Village Van Guard: I was breathless, and I really didn't know what to make of it.

You have to understand, back in the late 90's  I was mainly into hard rock and heavy metal type music, I had no exposure to jazz before 1997 at all .

Ironically I considered "Chasin the Trane" to be free jazz back then, yeah, that's a riot now thinking back to that time period, I had not yet been exposed to Ascension, Coleman's Free Jazz, or even worse Peter Brotzmann's Machine Gunn!

The latter probably being the most brutal and wonderful assault to my ears of all time.

Not long after I heard the 15 minute "Chasin the Train" I went out and purchased to 4 CD Village Van guard box set, with the complete 4 day engagement.

 Reading the original reviews I so blown away at the negative response of the music.

 I think critics really could take the atonal sound of Eric Dolphy, plus this music is modal and somewhat free wheeling, but not at all bizarre or completely over the top.

Why did the critics like John Tynan say this music was "anti jazz"? That is a total stupid statement, maybe it was anti bop, or anti museum music, but the music then and now captures the most important facets of jazz, or just good music in general.

Coltrane's  Live! explores, it stretches the boundaries, it takes risks, while still being accessible. I really don't understand the complaint back then.

I understand that Coltrane and Dolphy actually answered the critics in a Down Beat magazine article as well, I would have told then shove it.

 No wonder Miles had such a hard time by the end of the decade.

 I for one am glad these artists did not care what the critics thought ultimately.

 Some of these guys nearly starved to death trying to play what their heart desired rather than succumbing to critical or peer pressure.

If you have the will to, you really should get the 4 CD Village Vanguard box set, multiple takes of "Chasin' the Train", "Spiritual", and India are all extremely exciting and interesting to hear Jazz music being created for the first time right on the spot, Eric Dolphy plays the bass clarinet in a way no one did at that time, Dolphy was so ahead of his time, I think it took 20 years after his death for fans and critics to get his message.

The Vinyl copy on display is from my own collection, a late 60's or early 70 press.(Notice the ABC records labeling?) for some unknown reason I still see a ton of eBay sellers trying to pass this label off as an original pressing.

 Clearly this label is a second or third press, as all  Impulse Records  releases of John Coltrane prior to 1968 on Impulse will not have the ABC next to Impulse on the label. Yet the deception inadvertent or not, is clearly still a problem. It's a shame.

Impulse original pressings are really rising fast right now, it won't be long before those start rising to the Blue Note stratosphere, it might not be a bad idea to get them now while you still can at decent prices.

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