Lost John Coltrane Recording From 1963 Will Be Released at Last

Lost John Coltrane Recording From 1963 Will Be Released at Last

Impulse! is releasing the album as a single disc, featuring one rendition each of the seven tunes the band cut that day. (Ravi Coltrane and the record executive Ken Druker chose the order.) But for those who buy the deluxe edition, with seven alternate takes from the same session on a separate disc, the biggest score will be the four renditions of “Impressions.” Meditative but headlong, this piece had been the quartet’s concert centerpiece for two years at that point, but Coltrane still hadn’t given it a name. (On the tape box that was found, it was untitled.)

An expansive live version would be released later in 1963, on an album called “Impressions,” but this March recording session marked the second and, apparently, final time Coltrane would attempt to wrangle “Impressions” into a studio recording. All the versions hover around the four-minute mark, but each take is different; on two of them, the band rides along at a comfortable, medium tempo with Mr. Tyner adding a chiming, two-chord pattern. On the final two takes, Coltrane ticks the tempo up higher, and slashes boldly without a piano beneath him.

The album also includes two original tunes that seem to have been committed to tape here for the first and only time. They’re identified by the numbering system that Thiele used in the studio. The first, “11383,” is a brisk minor blues, with the swirling momentum typical of Coltrane’s live performances and his most affecting records.

Then there’s “11386,” a shimmying melody that begins with a wide-flung first section — pulpy chords resounding from Garrison’s bass — then a passage of beaming swing. It bears some structural similarity to Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” arrangement. But as Mr. Porter pointed out, the tune also sounds a lot like the writing of Mr. Tyner. Indeed, throughout the 1960s, the pianist was writing pieces with this same kind of fast, dancing melody, and a similar balancing act between swing and straight rhythms.

“He’s so on top of that piece. It’s just a thought,” Mr. Porter said, referring to Mr. Tyner’s avid playing on all three versions of “11386” featured here. “Where is it written that everything they played had to be by Coltrane?”

It’s a tempting, provocative question, and a good one. It’s one of many that this discovery allows us to start asking about the work of an epochal band in its prime.

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