Recorded a few years ago, in Coltrane's final period with the Miles Davis group, this set of four tunes catches the saxophonist in four distinct moods.
"Don't Take" is a relatively conservative thing, with the leader setting out sweepingly powerful melodic statements in that pressing tone so uniquely his. His few scale-like figures are merely embellishments here.
"I'll Get By" has Coltrane making more substantive use of scalar figures, though hardly as extensively as he does today. On "Spring," the saxophonist unhesitatingly leaps into the spiral style—in its earliest form, of course—that identifies him to most listeners now.
"Invitation" finds him trying some of the ideas that he used so effectively with Thelonious Monk in 1957. One of these was the building of contrasting harmonic lines around a single "home" note. It's a fascinating musical game in the hands of a jazzman as imaginative Coltrane.
Impressive, too, is the booming authority with which Coltrane exlores all four moods. However, he chooses to play, that seems to be the way it has to be.
The Davis rhythm section of the period—the one on this record—was strictly major league and sounded it.
It would be good to hear more of Hardin. His sense of understatement and melodic contour makes for a delightful contrasting voice in this session.
Let’s hope Prestige has more like this one in the vaults. —Richard B. Hadlock
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