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The pioneers of album cover design

David Stone Martin

The photographic covers

Searching for a modern jazz identity

BLUE NOTE  1500 series
Defining the hard bop style

BLUE NOTE  4000 series
Masterpieces of Reid Miles

Images of East Coast jazz

Street cred with Thelonious Monk

Moods of Chet and Claxton

Cool West Coast, great Sound

Masterworks by Charlie Parker

Small label, big Bird sound

Bold and striking albums

The classic drummer logo label

The beautiful design of Burt Goldblatt

Artist-operated jazz label with Mingus & Roach

Legendary, early 1960s LPs

Free jazz and silk screened covers

Edgy and experimental

The high spirit of Jim Flora

VARIOUS US labels (1)
ABC-Paramount, Aladdin, Argo, Capitol, Coral, Dawn, Decca,
and more

VARIOUS US labels (2)
Epic, Fantasy, HiFi, Imperial, Jazzland, Jazz West, Jubilee, Mercury, Mode, and more

VARIOUS US labels (3)
Roost, Signal, Storyville, Tampa, Transition, United Artists, Vee Jay, and more


The EP era and Metronome Records in 1950s

The LPs in the 1950s, and Swedish jazz abroad

Changing times in the 1960s

New energy to Swedish jazz in the 1970s

Montmartre, Debut Records and the heydays in Danish jazz

Krog and Garbarek, greats in Norwegian jazz

Plenty of merged styles in Finnish jazz

Americans in Paris, force in French jazz

Esquire and Tempo, classic labels in British jazz

Jazz labels with strong identity

Rare Italian jazz covers

From Diamonds to ICP in
Dutch jazz

Unique series of Polish jazz on Muza

Jazz labels around the world

John Coltrane: Blue Train  John Coltrane: Blue Train   Label: Blue Note 1577   12" LP 1957

John Coltrane on Vinyl
Special Feature

John Coltrane First Ride   John Coltrane Johnny Hodges

With Dizzy Gillespie and Johnny Hodges. John Coltrane spent his first years as a professional musician in Philadelphia where he played and toured with various local bands. In 1949 he joined Dizzy Gillespie's big band, and continued in the early 1950s to tour with a smaller group led by Dizzy. Then followed a few years with various R&B bands before he in 1954 came to Johnny Hodges, who then had temporarily left Duke Ellington and led his own group.

John Coltrane made some few recordings with Dizzy Gillespie. First time he played solo is in We Love to Boogie, recorded in March 1951. It was first issued on EP (DeeGee 3600) and then on the LP School Days (Regent 6043).

It took until the late 1970s before we got to hear more of what Coltrane did during his early career. Then came the LP Trane's First Ride (Oberon 5100). It contains radio recordings from Birdland in New York in January 1951 with Dizzy's group. There are several solos by John Coltrane on this LP (above left).

There are a couple of LPs with Johnny Hodges from the period when Coltrane played in the band. But none of them heard Coltrane as soloist. However it occurs quite frequently on an album from 1970's called At a Dance (Enigma 1052). It's a radio broadcast from Los Angeles in 1954, and Coltrane plays solo in among others the ballad Don't Blame Me (above right).

  Miles Davis New Quintet

First record with Miles Davis. In September 1955 John Coltrane was hired to Miles Davis newly formed quintet. It was the drummer Philly Joe Jones who picked him up from Philadelphia and it was a reluctant Miles that allowed him to start with the group.

Miles Davis had signed a new record deal with Columbia, but the first album with Miles and Coltrane was a LP on Miles old company Prestige (Prestige 7014) The quintet had already started to record for Columbia, but nothing could be issued until Miles has fulfilled the commitments for Prestige.


Miles Davis Cookin   Miles Davis Relaxin

Miles Davis Workin   Miles Davis Steamin

More with Miles on Prestige. Miles Davis quintet with John Coltrane went to the studio for another couple of sessions for Prestige during 1956. It resulted in four classic LPs. First was Cookin (Prestige 7094), with cover design by Reid Miles.

Then came Relaxin' (Prestige 7129) and Workin' (Prestige 7166). The last original album by the quintet for Prestige was Steamin' (Prestige 7200) issued 1961.


  Miles Davis Round About Midnight

Round About Midnight. After that the Prestige contract expired, Miles Davis completed the quintet recordings for Columbia in 1956 and the LP Round About Midnight (Columbia CL 949) was released in March 4, 1957.

It was met with a greater interest than the records for Prestige. Overall the Columbia LP has a stronger impact and John Coltrane sounds less tentative than on the earlier recordings.


  John Coltrane The Cats

The Cats. John Coltrane left Miles Davis group in April 1957. He had since about a year his own contract with Prestige, extending until 1958. He would soon make his first record, but also appeared during this period on a series of recordings with other musicians. He was one of The Cats on the Prestige label.

The LP above, The Cats (New Jazz 8217), with cover design and photo by Don Schlitten and recorded 1958, is one of total 20 Prestige LPs where Coltrane appeared as sideman or with shared leadership. Like the The Cats, some of the records are issued on the Prestige subsidiary labels New Jazz and Status.

Below you can see all these 20 LPs.

John Coltrane: All Morning   John Coltrane Kenny Burrell  

John Coltrane Ray Draper   John Coltrane Wheelin and Dealin  

John Coltrane: Interplay   John Coltrane: Mating Call  

John Coltrane Paul Quinichette   John Coltrane Sonny Rollins  

John Coltrane Art Taylor   John Coltrane Mal Waldron  

John Coltrane Red Garland Soul Junction   John Coltrane Red Garland Dig It  

John Coltrane Red Garland High Pressure   John Coltrane Gene Ammons Big Sound  

John Coltrane Gene Ammons Groove Blues   John Coltrane Mal Waldron The Dealers  

John Coltrane Elmo Hope   John Coltrane Tenor Conclave  

John Coltrane Prestige 16-6   John Coltrane Dakar  

Note that the last two in the list above actually is half the same record. The LP entitled "Modern Jazz Survey: Baritones & French Horn" was issued in 1957, included in the Prestige's short-lived 16 rpm speed experiment. The record has a length of two regular LPs and one side contains a sextet with John Coltrane, Pepper Adams and Cecil Payne among others. This music was issued again in 1963, now in Coltrane's name and entitled "Dakar".

Paul Chambers Jazz West   John Coltrane Chambers Music

Paul Chambers Blue Note 1534   Various Artists Transition

Chambers Music. During the time with Miles Davis, John Coltrane also appeared as sideman for the bassist in the quintet, Paul Chambers. One LP was recorded by the small label Jazz West and issued 1956, entitled Chambers' Music. The music was re-released several times around 1960 by, among others, Score Records, Imperial Records and the Swedish label Sonet (photo above top right).

It was also with Paul Chambers, Coltrane made his first session for Blue Note. Paul Chambers led a sextet with Coltrane, Donald Byrd, Horace Silver, Kenny Burrell and Philly Joe Jones. The title of the LP was Whims of Chambers (Blue Note 1534).

When Miles Davis Quintet played at Storyville in Boston in April 1956, Paul Chambers get a chance to collect another studio group. This time with John Coltrane, Curtis Fuller and Pepper Adams among others. The recording was made by the Transition label and was heard for the first time in the anthology "Jazz in Transition"".

  John Coltrane Prestige 7105

First recording under his own name. John Coltrane left Miles Davis Quintet in April 1957. The Prestige label offered him a contract for a series of recordings under his own name and in May 1957 he went to the studio for the first LP. It was simply entitled Coltrane (Prestige 7105) and the fine cover photo was taken by Esmond Edwards.

Coltrane plays with both quartet, quintet and sextet. Fellow musicians are trumpeter Johnny Splawn (a friend of Coltrane and this is his only known recording), Sahib Shihab, Red Garland, Paul Chamers and others.


Thelonious Monk Himself   Thelonious Monk Monks Music

Thelonious Monk John Coltrane   Monk Coltrane Carnegie Hall

John Coltrane with Thelonious Monk. At the same time as Coltrane left Miles Davis, he met Thelonious Monk and began rehearsing with him in Monk's home. When recording a solo album for Riverside, Monk asked Coltrane to sit in for the song Monks Mood, as they had rehearsed at the home of Monk. In the studio was also bassist Wilbur Ware. The recording was so successful that it was included on the LP Thelonious Himself (Riverside 12-235), which otherwise contains only Monk's solo piano.

It is said that Monk was present when Coltrane was fired from the Miles Davis Quintet. One of the reasons that Coltrane had to quit was his drug abuse. But he worked hard to get rid of it and he got great help from family and friends in Philadelphia, where he returned in spring 1957.

Thelonious Monk had promised to give him job whenever he was ready, and the summer of 1957 it was time. Then called Monk for a couple of sessions for Riverside, which resulted in the LP Monk's Music (Riverside 12-242). Besides Coltrane and others, the sessions also involved Coleman Hawkins. He was one of Coltrane's major influences and the unexpected meeting between them is very charming. The album cover was made by Paul Bacon.

After the recording John Coltrane was offered to continue with Monk. He would be part of Monk's quartet at the Five Spot jazz club in Greenwich Village, a commitment that began in the summer of 1957 and lasted rest of the year. The quartet, which also included Wilbur Ware and Shadow Wilson, made a studio recording during the summer which was issued a few years later on the Jazzland label (Jazzland 46). The Jazzland cover is made by Ken Deardoff and the painting of Monk is made by Richard Jennings, also known as "Prophet".

Private live recordings from Five Spot are issued on CD and there is also an LP from Mosaic with recordings from a concert at Carnegie Hall with the Monk-Coltrane quartet (photo above bottom right).

John Coltrane Prestige 7123   John Coltrane Traneing

Second LP for Prestige in his own name. In August 1957 John Coltrane made a recording with Red Garland Trio which became his second album under his own name (Prestige 7123). The original LP is quite rare and better known as "Traneing", the new titlel of the same LP wich was issued in 1964.

The original cover was made by Mark Rice and the expressive photo of John Coltrane on Traneing was taken by Esmond Edwards.

  John Coltrane Blue Train

Blue Train. Despite record contract with Prestige and the many LPs for the label, it is this LP, Blue Train (Blue Note 1577), that counts as Coltrane's main effort on record in the 1950s. He had received special permission from Prestige to make it for Blue Note. It was recorded on September 15, 1957 and issued at Christmas the same year.
Cover design by Reid Miles and photo by Francis Wolff.


Johnny Griffin Blue Note 1559   Sonny Clark Sonny's Crib

More Coltrane on Blue Note. John Coltrane appeared only in four sessions for Blue Note. Besides "Whims of Chambers" and "Blue Train". he played with Johnny Griffin (leader), Hank Mobley and Lee Morgan on a LP called A Blowing Session (Blue Note 1559). It was recorded in April 1957.

A few months later, the pianist Sonny Clark leads a sextet with Coltrane, Donald Byrd and Curtis Fuller. This LP is entitled Sony's Crib (Blue Note 1576). The cover on the Griffin record is designed by Harold Feinstein, while Reid Miles has done the other. The photo on both records have been taken by Francis Wolff.


  Art Blakey Big Band

Coltrane with Art Blakey While John Coltrane continued to play with Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot in autumn 1957, he made a few recordings with other musicians. He plays in Art Blakey's occasional Big Band (Bethlehem 6027). On this LP there are also two tracks with a quintet, identical to Blakeys Jazz Messengers, except that Coltrane replaces Johnny Griffin.


John Coltrane Oscar Pettiford Winner's Circle   John Coltrane Oscar Pettiford

Coltrane with Oscar Pettiford. At about the same time as the recording with Blakey, John Coltrane appears in another session for the Bethlehem label. It's Oscar Pettiford leading an all-star group including Donald Byrd and Al Cohn. This LP was issued as Winner's Circle (Bethlehem 6066).

One of the songs from this session with Coltrane, called "Strictly Instrumental", was then issued for the first time on a LP titled "Modern Jazz Festival" (Jazztone J-1245).


Joh Coltrane Lush Life   John Coltrane Soultrane

Lush Life and Soultrane. In the beginning of 1958, John Coltrane completed a recording for Prestige which had begun the year before. It was now issued on a LP entitled Lush Life (Prestige 7188). Coltrane performs with trio and quintet with Donald Byrd on trumpet.

A month later, Coltrane went into the studio again, now with the Red Garland trio. The music was issued on the LP Soultrane (Prestige 7142). Design and photo on both covers: Desmond Edwards.

In an interview in Stockholm in 1960 John Coltrane says that Soultrane is the quartet recording he is most pleased with, along with Giant Steps as he later made for Atlantic. But his favorite all categories is Blue Train for Blue Note.


  Miles Davis Making Wax

Back to Miles One of those who listened to John Coltrane when he played with Monk at Five Spot, was his former employer Miles Davis. He had problem to find a replacement for Coltrane in his group. However, it seems to resolve when Sonny Rollins started with the quintet in summer of 1957.

But Rollins would rather have his own group and quit after a few months. He was replaced by Bobby Jaspar and then by Cannonball Adderley. But Miles want John Coltrane and towards the end of the year, Coltrane was back with Miles.

An interesting document from this period is an album, issued in the 1970s, with radio recordings from Café Bohemia in 1957. It's titled Makin Wax (Chakra TH100 MD) and it's the only recorded occasion with Rollins on tenor the Miles Davis Quintet. And for comparison there are also 3 tracks with John Coltrane replacing Rollins in the group.


  Cannonball Adderley in Chicago

With Cannonball in Chicago When Coltrane returned to Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley already was in the group and Miles chosed to expand it to a sextet.

In February 1958, this new sextet played at the Sutherland Hotel in Chicago. It gave Cannonball Adderley opportunity to make a recording under his own name for the Mercury label. He took all the members in the group, except Miles himself, to the studio and recorded a LP called Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago (Mercury MG-20444).

In the liner notes Cannonball expresses great admiration for John Coltrane. He describes him as the future of jazz; a musician playing what people never heard before and compare him in this respect with Charlie Parker and Lester Young. "One day, one will understand how much he has to say," said Cannonball.

The illustration on the cover was made by Peter Gourtain


Miles Davis Milestones   John Coltrane Soultrane

Sextet recordings with Miles. The first recordings with Miles' new sextet with Coltrane and Adderley was made in February-March, 1958. They resulted in the classic LP Milestones (Columbia CL1193). The rhythm section consisted of Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. The cover photo of Miles has been taken by Dennis Stock.

During the spring, Red Garland and Philly Joe was replaced by Bill Evans and Jimmy Cobb. This new constellation plays on 3 tracks on the LP Jazz Track (Columbia CL 1268), which also contains the music for the film "L'Ascenseur pour l'echafaud" which Miles recorded in France with Barney Wilen among others.


Miles Davis Newport   Miles Davis All Stars

More with the Miles Davis Sextet. Not very much were recorded during 1958 with the new Miles Davis Sextet. The group was recorded at the Newport Festival in July 1958, but the music was not issued until four-five years later on the LP Miles and Monk at Newport (Columbia CL 2178).

There are also some broadcast recordings issued, like the LP above called Miles Davis All Stars (Jazzband Records EB 409).


  John Coltrane: Setting the Pace     

   John Coltrane: Standard Coltrane   John Coltrane Stardust  

   John Coltrane The Believer   John Coltrane Black Pearls  

   John Coltrane: Bahia   John Coltrane: The Last Trane

Last year with Prestige When John Coltrane began with Miles again, he still had his recording contract with Prestige. In 1958 he made his concluding sessions for the label. In contrast to labels as Blue Note and Riverside, the Prestige record sessions were not always intendent for a specific LP album. The ambition was to record as much as possible during a session and then spread the material on various LPs. It means that John Coltrane LPs on Prestige often contain recordings made at different times and with different musicians. At the end of 1958, when Coltrane had made his last session for Prestige, the label had material that was enough for 7 albums.

The first album was issued in the early 1960s and entitled Settin' the Pace (Prestige 7213).

The other 6 albums (above) were issude 1962-1965. All covers were designed by Don Schlitten.

  John Coltrane: Mainstream Savoy     

   Wilbur Harden Tanganiyka   Wilbur Harden Jazz Way Out

With Wilbur Harden. During the spring of 1958, John Coltrane played with a group led by trumpeter Wilbur Harden in a couple of sessions for the Savoy label. The music was issued on 3 LPs (above), which provides an early example of Coltrane's interest in African music. The music is predominantly composed by Harden with titles such as Dial Africa, Oomba, Gold Cost and Tanganyika Strut.

Not much is known about Wilbur Harden in addition to these recordings. He made some records with Yusef Lateef at the same time, but then disappeared from the scene and reportedly passed away in the late 1960s. His Miles Davis-inspired playing with Coltrane is very good.

Legrand Jazz   George Russell New York

Interlude with two great arrangers. During 1958 John Coltrane also recorded on a couple of odd LPs where famous arrangers played the main role. The first album is entitled Legrand Jazz (Columbia CL 1250). It's Michael Legrand who had arranged music for a 11-piece band where John Coltrane is involved and especially Miles Davis is shining.

On the second LP has George Russell arranged for a big band where John Coltrane is one of the soloists in the Rodgers & Hart tune Manhattan. The album's title is New York, NY (Decca DL 9216).


Cecil Taylor Hard Driving Jazz   Ray Draper Tuba Jazz

More unusual collaborations. An early meeting in the recording studio of two geniuses occurred in October 1958. The pianist Cecil Taylor led a quintet with John Coltrane on tenor and Kenny Dorham on trumpet. By contract reasons Coltrane appears under the name "Blue Train". The LP was entitled Hard Driving Jazz (United Artists UAL-4014).

A month later Coltrane once again played in the tubaist Ray Draper's quintet which resulted in the LP A Tuba Jazz (Jubilee JLP-1090).


  John Coltrane: Bags and Trane

Recording contract with Atlantic In the beginning of 1959 the Atlantic label offered John Coltrane a recording contract. It resulted in some of his best LPs, but also meant that his activity as a studio musician declined. In 1958 he participated in about 20 sessions, while it during 1959 was only one-third as many. This was due, among other things, that the contract with Atlantic just demanded him to make 3 LPs a year, which may well be regarded as an underestimation of his capacity.

The first LP for Atlantic, however, was not entirely successful, and was not released until 1961. Bags & Trane (Atlantic 1368) feels like a fairly perfunctory attempt by the musicians to adapt to the label's musical image and policies. Cover photo is taken by Lee Friedlander.


  John Coltrane: Giant Steps

Giant Steps. Next Atlantic LP with John Coltrane is one of his most acclaimed. Atlantic is now making a honest effort in the newest jazz and has also contracted Ornette Coleman, whose first LP for the label came out in about the same time as Giant Steps. Both records were recorded in May 1959, and released in the beginning of 1960.

There was a lot that happened in jazz at the time, and Coltrane was influenced by what he saw and heard. On Giant Steps, he plays with a quartet consisting of Tommy Flanagan, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor.
Cover photo by Lee Friedlander.


  Miles Davis Kind of Blue

Kind of Blue. At the same time as Giant Steps, Coltrane also was involved in another milestone of jazz - the modal masterpiece Kind of Blue by Miles Davis (Columbia CL 1355). This LP was recorded in the spring 1959, and issued at the end of the year. We hear Miles' regular sextet with the participation also of Wynton Kelly, now going to replace Bill Evans on piano.


   John Coltrane: Coltrane Jazz   John Coltrane My Favorite Things  

   John Coltrane play the Blues   John Coltrane Sound  

   John Coltrane: Ole   John Coltrane: The Avantgarde

The final recordings for Atlantic During 1959 and 1960, John Coltrane made another 6 albums for Atlantic. On Coltrane Jazz, he used the Miles Davis' rhythm section consisting of Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb. But in one of the songs we can hear his new quartet which he formed after leaving Miles Davis. It includes McCoy Tyner, Steve Davis and Elvin Jones.

This quartet is also heard on the other LPs, except for Ole Coltrane which has an extended group with Freddie Hubbard among others, and The Avantgarde which is a collaboration with Don Cherry.

Birdland Story   John Coltrane Birdland

Rare recording on the Roulette label. John Coltrane's first own quartet began to emerge in the spring of 1960 and the first engagement was at the Jazz Gallery in New York. Elvin Jones had not yet joined the group and behind the drums sat Pete La Roca. He was later replaced by Billy Higgins before Elvin joined in October.

The first recordings of the quartet was in September (with Higgins on drums) for the Roulette label, a mounth before the recording for Atlantic (Coltrane Jazz). Roulette issued the material on one side of the two LP box set called The Birdland Story. The recording was made in a studio in Los Angeles and had really nothing to do with the jazz club Birdland (others than that the record company and the club had the same owner).

In Europe, gave the French label Vogue out the music on a LP called The Best of Birdland (also available as a single LP on Roulette). The Lee Morgan/Wayne Shorter quintet of 1960 is heard on side two.


miles Coltrane in Stockholm   John Coltrane Birdland

Last chorus with Miles. John Coltrane ended with Miles Davis in April 1960. The band was then reduced to a quintet again and one of the last concerts with Coltrane was in Stockholm in March. It was made a private recording of the concert that was released on a double album by the Dragon label in the mid 1980s.

John Coltrane's dropout became problematic for Miles Davis. He had difficulty finding a suitable replacement, and it took four years before he found the tenorist which he thought could fill up the place - Wayne Shorter.

The first tested was Sonny Stitt and after a short time followed by Hank Mobley. The latter plays on the LP Someday My Prince Will Come (Columbia CL 1656) which was recorded in 1961. John Coltrane makes a final appearances in the quintet here. He replaces Hank Mobley on the title track and another track, Teo, who together represent more than half of the playing time on the record.


  John Coltrane Africa / Brass

First album for Impulse. While John Coltrane completed the recordings for Atlantic, he began recording for his new label Impulse. The first album, Africa / Brass (Impulse A-6), was recorded in two sessions in May/June 1961. Coltrane used a bigger group than ever before. He composed most of the music himself and wrote arrangements along with Eric Dolphy and McCoy Tyner. The music is strongly focused on the rhythmic elements and Coltrane is significantly inspired by African rhythms.

The Impulse label was newly established and was a subsidiary of ABC-Paramount. The lavish albums with their typical orange/black signature color became one of the most important messengers of the new jazz music and John Coltrane was the central point.


  John Coltrane Village Vanguard

Live at the Village Vanguard. The contemporary criticism of John Coltrane were somewhat ambivalent. Sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Thanks to the records, we today can form an idea of how he sounded.

A special golden opportunity is the recordings from the Village Vanguard, where Coltrane played with his quartet and quintet in November 1961. Thanks to the sound engineer Rudy Van Gelder, we can hear Coltrane play at his very best in four full evenings (issued on CD).

About 35 minutes of the total material was released by Impulse on the LP Live at the Village Vanguard (Impulse A-10). Additional material was later issued on the LP Impression (see below). The critics was, as said, ambivalent. In Downbeat (April 1962) a bored Ira Gitler gives the second lowest rating and writes that the music is monotonous and sometime sounds like that "his horn is in need of repair". But this review was balanced with a second more positive view on Coltrane.


Coltrane in Stockholm HPLP5   John Coltrane Live in Sweden

Europe touring 1961. After the gig at the Village Vanguard, John Coltrane went on tour in Europe, starting in England and continued in Sweden among other countries. Including in the quintet was Eric Dolphy, McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman and Elvin Jones.

Private recordings were made from several of the concerts. Among others the two in Stockholm, in November 23, which were issued by various obscure labels. First out was a Swedish label called HP (Historic Performances), who in the early 1970s gave out five LPs. They were issued completely anonymously, without information on either the cover or the label.

One of these LPs, HPLP 5 (above left) contains the entire first concert in Stockholm, including a 20 minutes version of My Favorite Things. The same song was played during the second concert, now 26 minutes long. It is issued on the LP above to the right, entitled Live from Sweden (Oppex 10).


John Coltrane Dynamic Duo   John Coltrane Impassioned

Live at Birdland 1962. After returning home from the first European tour, the quintet played at Birdland in New York in February 1962. There is a recording from this performance issued on LP by the Ozone label entitled The Dynamic Duo.

A few months later, Coltrane played again at Birdland, now with the quartet. We can hear how it sounds on a LP on the Alto label, entitled Impassioned Tenor-Man. Both these records came in the 1970s.


Coltrane in Stockholm HPLP2   John Coltrane in Stockholm HPLP3

In Europe 1962. John Coltrane was back in Europe autumn 1962 for several concerts. On November 19, for example, he appeared in two concerts with his quartet at the Stockholm Concert Hall. They were privately recorded and issued (in 1970s) on two LPs from the Swedish mail order company Historical Performances (HPLP 2 and 3).

Both albums had blank covers and labels, and the only information available was a stenciled flyer where the record was called "Blue Train live on Mount Meru".


  John Coltrane Impulse 21

Third LP on Impulse. The Impulse label was founded by producer Creed Taylor who then produced Coltrane's first album Africa / Brass. But he soon left the company and joined Verve. Then it was Bob Thiele that produced most of the company's albums.

John Coltrane's third LP on Impulse was issued in 1962 and was entitled Coltrane (Impulse A-21). We hear the quartet but with Reggie Workman on bass, replacing Jimmy Garrison.


  John Coltrane: Ballads     

   John Coltrane and Ellington   John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Coltrane for the Public. John Coltrane is now at the peak of his career as a creative musician. He was a leading figure of the new jazz, but it was a music that many listeners perceived as difficult and demanding. Producer Bob Thiele of Impulse therefore thought that it was time to present a slightly more accessible John Coltrane.

The three following LPs on Impulse also reached a wider audience than before. The first paired Coltrane with Duke Ellington (Impulse A-30) and it was a successful meeting with their respective rhythmsections who took turns at the recording.

Then Coltrane played with his quartet into a bundle of romantic ballads that were issued on the very enjoyable album Ballads (Impulse A-32). This was followed by another album with ballads, now with singer Johnny Hartman (Impulse A-40), whose amazing voice is better than ever on this record with Coltrane.

John Coltrane Impressions   John Coltrane Birdland

Lots of Coltrane albums. A fourth LP with John Coltrane was released by Impulse in autumn 1963, entitled Impressions (Impulse A-42), which among other things contained leftovers from the 1961 live recordings at the Village Vanguard. In October 1963 John Coltrane played two weeks with his quartet at Birdland in New York. The sound engineer Rudy Van Gelder is there one evening and make a recording for Impulse, which was issued on the LP Coltrane live at Birdland (Impulse A-50).

The Impulse LPs are now getting so many and coming so tight that critics began to feel a certain saturation. Especially as also both Prestige and Atlantic continued to issue previously unreleased material. It pops up 5-6 new Coltrane albums every year during this time.


  John Coltrane Crescent

Crescent. John Coltrane next LP for Impulse was recorded in April and June 1964. It is a quartet album titled Crescent (Impulse A-66), released ahead Christmas that year. The music, which is written by Coltrane, has an epic character and herald the album A Love Supreme, who would become John Coltrane's most famous LP.

Crescent contains some of John Coltrane's most beautiful efforts on record; the title song, and not least the tune Wise One are very enjoyable to listen to. The album was welcomed especially by those critics who previously had problems with Coltrane freer musical excursions.


  John Coltrane A Love Supreme

A Love Supreme. In December 1964 John Coltrane Quartet recorded A Love Supreme (Impulse A-77). It is regarded as a highlight of Coltrane's career and received a lot of attentions when it was issued in spring 1965, and it was elected in a variety of polls.

So far Coltrane's Impulse records had sold in 25000 to 50000 copies, but A Love Supreme now reached a six-digit number. The music is composed as a religious epic in four movements and can be seen as both a magnificent end of the tonal language Coltrane developed since Giant Steps, and as a starting point for a new (and sadly final) period of even freer musical forms.

The LP is also designed as a personal confession, and manifests in the album text Coltrane's faith in God and understanding of the meaning of life.


John Coltrane New Wave   John Coltrane New Thing

New Wave and Thing. In March 1965 John Coltrane Quartet appeard in a concert at Village Gate in New York. together with other leading figures on the free jazz scene, among others Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp. The concert was issued on a LP entitled The New Wave in Jazz (Impulse A-90).

Coltrane and Shepp also appeared with their groups at the Newport festival in the summer of 1965. The concerts were recorded and issued as New Thing at Newport (Impulse A-94).


  John Coltrane Plays

Last quartet album. John Coltrane was now going to break up his old quartet. The last LPs were recorded in autumn 1965, but they were not issued until after Coltrane's death.

Last issued quartet LP during Coltrane's lifetime was The John Coltrane Quartet Plays (Impulse A-85). which was recorded in May 1965, and issued in the autumn. At this time. Pharoah Sanders became a permanent member of Coltrane's group.


  John Coltrane Ascension

Ascension: Edition I and II. In the summer of 1965 John Coltrane also recorded the LP Ascension (Impulse A-95). The music is another expression of John Coltrane's deep religiousness, but is now showing an even freer form of collective improvisation than before. Coltrane plays with a large group, including musicians such as Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, John Tschicai and Marion Brown.

The suite Ascension was recorded in two versions and the second was issued not so long time after the first. The album cover and catalog number says nothing about the different versions, it appears only in an engraved text in the vinyl's run off: Edition I and Edition II.


  John Coltrane: Village Vanguard Again     

   John Coltrane Kulu Se Mama   John Coltrane Meditations

Last records. After the recording of Ascension, John Coltrane had only two years left of life. He died of cancer in July 1967. He had time to record an additional number of LPs for Impulse, three of which could be issued during his lifetime.

Kulu See Mama (Impulse A-9106) and Meditations (Impuls A-9110) were recorded in autumn 1965, and released about a year later. Jimmy Garrison, McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones are still in the group.

Live at the Village Vanguard Again (Impulse A-9124) was recorded in May 1966, and released a few months before Coltrane's death. On the cover photo we can see Coltrane's group at this time: Pharoah Sanders, John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison and Rashied Ali.

John Coltrane Expression   John Coltrane Om

John Coltrane Selflessness   John Coltrane Transition

Posthumous albums. Just a few weeks after Coltrane's death came Expression (Impulse A-9120). It was recorded in early 1967 with the group that he had used for about a year, the same that is playing on the live album from the Village Vanguard. The LP is designed as a memory album, but was prepared by Coltrane himself and ready for release before his death.

Another four Impulse LPs with Coltrane came out in the 1960s: OM (Impulse A-9140), Selflessness (Impulse A-9161), Cosmic Music (see below) and Transition (Impulse A-9195).

John Coltrane Cosmic Music   John Coltrane Cosmic Music Impulse

Cosmic Music. This album was recorded in early 1966, produced and paid for by Coltrane himself. The recording was then lying in Coltrane's home, before Alice Coltrane after her husband's death began to work with it. She supplemented the old recordings with two of her own newly recorded tracks with her new group. She issued the LP, entitled Cosmic Music, on her own label Coltrane Records in autumn 1967 (or possibly the spring of 1968). The edition was limited and the record is now very rare.

The release was a surprise for the Impulse label and they suspected that Alice Coltrane could dispose more unreleased material with John Coltrane. It ended with an agreement that Impulse would continue to be responsible for the material, in return as Alice got her own recording contract with Impulse. In 1968 Impulse gave out their own edition of Cosmic Music (Impulse A-9148).


John Coltrane Seattle   John Coltrane Sun Ship

John Coltrane Infinity   John Coltrane Japan

John Coltrane Africa Brass 2   John Coltrane Interstellar Space

Coltrane albums in the 1970s. The Impulse label continued in the 1970s to release John Coltrane on record. Partly in the form of anthologies and compilations and partly unreleased archive material.

In 1971 came Live in Seattle (Impulse 9202) and Sun Ship (Impulse 9211), both recorded in 1965. The album Infinity (Impulse 9225) had new material from the Cosmic Music session, added with strings and organ by Alice Coltrane.

A concert recorded in Japan in 1966 was released in 1973 and the following year came Africa / Brass, Vol. 2 (Impulse 9273) and Interstellar Space (Impulse 9277). The latter is a duo with Coltrane and Rashied Ali from 1967.

This will complete this list of John Coltrane vinyl records. Impulse continued to issue unreleased material in the second half of the 1970s and a number of other record labels have released recordings of Coltrane concerts around the world. But that will be another story.

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