Puzzled eavesdroppers on recent jazz gossip might be forgiven for suspecting that the music was something that only happened decades ago, and enthusiastic reports of its current rude health are fake news. Three weeks after Miles Davis’s exhumed and embalmed 1985 Rubberband release comes a previously unknown John Coltrane 1960s-quartet session called Blue World – short tracks and alternate takes on early Coltrane originals, recorded for a Canadian movie soundtrack in summer 1964, and never intended for release.
John Coltrane: Blue World album art work
But unlike Rubberband, Blue World – even if its movie agenda required simpler, and more lyrically explicit delivery than anything else this enthralling band was doing on the road or on record in 1964 – is still Coltrane quartet music to its vibrant core. Commissioned by Canadian director and Coltrane fan Gilles Groulx for a Montreal love story called Le Chat Dans Le Sac, Blue World features two takes of the exquisite 1959 ballad Naima, three of the catchily hooky Village Blues, the Sonny Rollins dedication Like Sonny, a harmonically audacious exploration of the modally stripped-down title track, and a storming ensemble performance on the standout, the mostly-improvised Traneing In. For newcomers to a 20th-century musical giant who transcended genre frontiers, it makes a very attractive sampler. For fans who know that the dark, lamenting Crescent preceded it, and the legendary and hippy-hypnotising A Love Supreme followed, it’s a fascinating hybrid of Coltrane’s song-based earlier methods, and his incandescently devotional late period.
Also out this month
The quirky sonic imagination of guitar star Bill Frisell sounds a shade tamed by his Blue Note leadership debut. His Harmony release joins jazz and folk classics, cowboy songs and originals in a lineup including unaffectedly lucid folk singer Petra Haden. It’s pretty, but a bit on-the-nose for harder-core Frisellians. Formerly Mercury-nominated punk-jazzers Led Bib’s It’s Morning (RareNoise) also, untypically, features wistfully dreamy vocals from the compelling Sharron Fortnam, but the wild old free-sax polyphonies and stomping drumming still blast refreshingly on. Fine UK jazz saxophonist Diane McLoughlin’s double-violin chamber quartet the Casimir Connection affectingly blends jazz with influences from Poulenc, Bartók and Irish and Eastern European folk songs on the childhood-memories themes of Cause and Effect (Ciconia Records). And keyboardist/producer Joe Armon-Jones, one of the brightest stars of the UK’s genre-blending young nu-jazz scene, creatively fuses neo-soul, rap, African music, dub, jazz from Nubya Garcia and Moses Boyd, and a seductive dose of Robert Glasper influence on Turn to Clear View (Brownswood).