ITT I want critical opinions, constructive replies and people who contribute, either with writing or critique.
I know my writing is still in its infancy, but someone's got to start this thread. I'll begin with a review and end with a poem
John Coltrane - My Favorite Things
A Myopic MonkeyJohn Coltrane, perhaps the most revered saxophonist in Jazz history surely needs no more introduction at this point. This absolute milestone in Coltrane’s discography marks a changing point in his career on many different levels: John leaves Miles to start his own band, he picks up the Soprano sax and he releases this seminal album to critical and popular acclaim, the latter almost exclusively due to Coltrane’s great rendition of ‘My Favorite Things’. Him parting from Miles also resulted in a change of style from bepop to modal jazz.
On the piano you’ll hear the legendary McCoy Tyner, back then a relative new cat in the business, having played previously with Freddie Hubbard, Art Farmer and Curtis Fuller, but only entering the scene in the very late ’50s. Tyner is accompanied by Steve Davis on the bass and Elvin Jones on drums.
Starting off the record is the eponymous title track ‘My Favorite Things’, originally composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein for the musical The Sound of music. Coltrane’s version has little in common with the original song however; Instead of an honest yet simple song expressing love for ‘whiskers on kittens’ John’s version carries a strong spiritual theme. My suspicion is only strengthened by the fact that all of his band members at this time were practicing muslims, converts even. There is also a noticeable Indian influence. Though the basis of the two pieces still is the same: ‘My Favorite Things’ implies things I like, things I love. Much like Ahmad Jamal’s ‘I Love Music’ this composition, too, can be seen as the ultimate expression of love and passion for one’s craft. Regardless of how often I’ve listened to this track, I can never comprehend the sheer power the first few seconds of this peace have. It grips you firmly and never lets go. After the short introduction, when the drums start their swing the song changes pace, progressing incredibly smoothly. It only takes until the one minute mark until John really starts to lead the entire band with his sax. Just when you think the intensity of his playing has reached its climax Tyner turns up on the piano and it reaches a new high. The way McCoy Tyner just ever so slightly adjust the volume of his piano really elevates this peace to another level: Incredibly dynamic, smooth, fluctuating, upbeat, fiery, concise. He gets a lot of time to shine while the Soprano sax takes a break and the piano reaches its crescendo at around 7 minutes into the recording, when Coltrane picks up the pace again. The roaring, relentless sax now instead of leading the tone is chasing the rest of the band in what is a musical joyride through the band leaders mind. With every note carefully placed and the incredibly progression of this peace that never seems to let up all of the 14 minutes are pure bliss and, if anything, leave you longing for more. Out of a short melody Coltrane crafted one of the most intricate compositions in Jazz history for me and you to admire more than 50 years later.
The next peace, originally titled ‘Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye’ is a Jazz standard from the ’40s by Cole Porter. A song about the ambiguity of love – As long as I’m with you I am glad, but as we part I feel blue. On this track John arguably shines the least while the slow and steady bassline played by Steve Davis and the subtle rhythm section handled by Elvin Jones put Tyner in the spotlight, who ends up doing a wonderful job transitioning between notes as he does between emotions. Coltrane’s very somber and warm introduction kicks the recording off. Even though the beginning is clearly the more uplifting, joyous part, to me the melancholy is ever present in John’s playing. Around the two minutes mark is where Davis really starts to shine, accompanying Tyner while the sax takes a break and Jones is supporting. When the sax sets in around four minutes the music comes to an end, slowing down, building up for what is next to come.
This particular rendition of my all-time favorite Jazz standard ‘Summer Time’ might be the most energetic, pulsing, vibrant version out there. Composed for ‘Porgy and Bess’ by the great George Gershwin. In the 80 years of its existence this song has been covered more than 30,000 times, yet out of all those this has to be one of the most standout recompositions there is. After a rather slows start the songs evolves into an orgiastic combination of screaming soprano sax, fast, precise drumming, clashing piano and upbeat bass. At no less than two minutes Coltrane is already going wild, playing faster than what my mind is being able to follow, always one step ahead. The interplay between the drums and Coltrane’s soprano sax is phenomenal, McCoy’s little piano transition at around four minutes done absolutely brilliantly. His delicate, arpeggiated playing is delightful, he leads the band with such ease and switches seamlessly between heavy chords and light scales. As we are entering the sixth minutes we get some much-needed bass exposure as he attempts a duet with Jones. While usually in the background Davis excels when soloing, the buildup until the piano sets in again is excellent and the feeling when Tyner hits his chords just gorgeous. Now Jones gets his time to shine and boy does he show off. All the Soli are absolutely great in their own regard and contribute so much to this already unique piece. Just before the song finishes all the players come together for the gran finale. This masterpiece exemplifies everything summer is: Colourful, sunny, growing, sprouting, blooming; With none of the subtle melancholy of the original, but rather incredible pace and drive.
‘But Not For Me’ is another Gershwin original, however this time composed for the musical ‘Girl Crazy’ from 1930. Just like Summertime this composition is also fast-paced and upbeat, barring little resemblance with the Gershwin version. As Coltrane starts us off with a beautiful slap-happy sax section we get into the mood of the piece. His playing gets more complex by the minute and as the narrative of the song progresses. The band is heating up and the soprano sax starts getting really intense at about 1:30, not letting up until he returns to the basic melody around 3:40, the point McCoy Tyner takes the lead and the sax takes a timeout. His piano play is akin to a bird’s chirps, a sparrow jumping around. It’s jolly and blissful. Three minutes later Coltrane jumps back on the sax with the recurring melody and the band gives it up one last time – Lighthearted, perhaps even a little blue eyed, maybe like a young love, maybe ‘Girl Crazy’.
I decided not to review the two bonus tracks, since this review is for the 1961 edition specifically. ‘My Favorite Things’ is one of those classics no one should miss. It’s an essential listen and for good reason.
Look, I realize I don't follow a meter and things don't always rhyme and all but that's just how it comes out.How far can we really see?
Across the sea
And open sky
A murky veil
I oughta try
How far can I really see?
Shatters fragile orbs of glass
How far can they really see?
In a meadow
Of ones and zero
How far can we really see?
With open arms
Or fully armed
Or paralyzed and cowering
Knowing our impeding
Just how far can we really see?
I have a short story ready, too, that I'd love critique on but maybe that one's a little too much for this forum