K E N N Y B U R R E L L & J O H N C O LT R A N E
KENNY BURRELL guitar JOHN COLTRANE tenor saxophone TOMMY FLANAGAN piano PAUL CHAMBERS bass JIMMY COBB drums 1 FREIGHT TRANE 7:19 2 I NEVER KNEW 7:04 3 LYRESTO 5:41
4 WHY WAS I BORN? 3:12 5 BIG PAUL 14:04
FROM 1955, the year he came to prominence with Miles Davis’s first “great quintet,” the legendary tenor saxophonist John Coltrane (1926-1967) recorded with only one guitar player: the superbly versatile Kenny Burrell (b. 1931). In March 1958, the pair—joined by the crack rhythm section of pianist (and Burrell’s fellow Detroiter) Tommy Flanagan, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb (the latter two Coltrane’s colleagues at the time with the Miles Davis sextet)—got together to cut the five tunes herein for New Jazz. The result is part hard-bop, part blowing session, and part tuneful bebop, with one very special intimate dialogue between tenor and guitar on “Why Was I Born?,” the only duo recording Coltrane ever essayed with a chordal instrument. Throughout Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane, the parts add up to a thoroughly absorbing whole.
I remember the sessions well, I remember how the musicians wanted to sound, and I remember their reactions to the playbacks. Today, I feel strongly that I am their messenger. —RUDY VAN GELDER Recorded by RUDY VAN GELDER at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ; March 7, 1958. Supervision by BOB WEINSTOCK. Remastering, 2005—Rudy Van Gelder (Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ). All transfers were made from the analog master tapes to digital at 24-bit resolution. Notes by DAN MORGENSTERN. Total Time 38:00
www.concordmusicgroup.com • Prestige Records, Tenth and Parker, Berkeley, CA 94710. π & © 2006, Concord Music Group, Inc., 100 North Crescent Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.
KENNY BURRELL & JOHN COLTRANE KENNY BURRELL guitar JOHN COLTRANE tenor saxophone TOMMY FLANAGAN piano PAUL CHAMBERS bass JIMMY COBB drums
During his final month with Miles Davis’s group, John Coltrane participated in a number of recording sessions for Prestige independently of Davis (though frequently with one or more members of Davis’s rhythm section) in both leader and sideman roles. Many of the resultant albums, of which this is one, have already been released—still more are to follow. Coltrane no longer plays in quite the same way that he did in 1958, the year this recording was made (in that year he was playing differently than he had in 1956), and there are many who believe that this was his most creative period. Perhaps it was, but growth is perpetual new beginnings and for Coltrane to have remained where he was would have meant for him not only to deny a possibility of greater expression in his music (a possibility I think he has realized) but to reduce the vitality of what he was already into, as well. The Davis unit (the original Quintet with Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones comprising the rhythm section) was perhaps the single most important group in jazz of the late Fifties and Davis himself was the single most important instrumentalist of that decade. Coltrane’s growth was immeasurably nourished and accelerated by Davis’s influence and the tenor saxophonist quickly became the leading force on his instrument. But in this record, as in his others of the time, including those with Davis, one can hear Coltrane in the process of breaking away from what were coming to be restrictions within the Davis context and frame of reference. What Coltrane had learned from his stint with Thelonious Monk was not an insignificant factor. If an artist is going to say something original he must necessarily
find a new form with which to say it. This album and other documents of Coltrane’s earlier work are insights into the stages of development toward that end, and the new beginnings to follow it, of a major jazz artist. There used to be a great deal of talk about Coltrane’s lack of “discipline” in recordings such as this one outside the Davis group. What was meant by that criticism was that Coltrane seemed to be going in any number of directions at once, that his solos were often without at least an accessible sense of order, and that his ideas were frequently unresolved. This is not without truth, but it is also beside the point, certainly beside the most important point anyway, for if Coltrane had taken heed of such criticism he might never have discovered the true size and breadth of his talent. At any rate, and as this album will testify, he gave us music of great beauty, emotional impact, and urgency during that period. Here, on the opener “Freight Trane,” his solo begins with what has been called the “shock effect” open cry that is almost a Coltrane trademark, and that “cry” and (one keeps returning to the term) the sense of urgency that is one of the unique qualities of his sound are integral facets of the immediacy and charge of all his solos on this record. Kenny Burrell, whose date this was, plays, I think, exceptionally well with Coltrane and would seem to have been extended by him. One might go directly to the brief rendition of “Why Was I Born?,” on which only Burrell and Coltrane participate, to hear one very lovely result of their juxtaposition. Though he has been challenged by Wes Montgomery and, more recently, by Grant Green, Burrell remains the leading guitarist of neo-Bop persuasion and the
standard-bearer of the Charlie Christian tradition. He plays, on this recording, with both fire and eloquence and his solos on “Freight Trane,” “Big Paul,” and “I Never Knew” are among his best on records. “Lyresto,” incidentally, which provides for what is probably Coltrane’s best solo here, is Burrell’s line. Much of the credit for the success of this session can be claimed by the frequently brilliant rhythm section. Tommy Flanagan, whose accomplishment as a “comper” has come to overshadow his abilities as a soloist, delivers imaginatively potent work in the latter as well as the former role and has several especially good solos on “Freight Trane” and the extended introduction to “Big Paul.” Paul Chambers, who has worked with Miles Davis since the inception of the original Quintet, was a primary component of that group’s extraordinary stature. His solos on “Freight Trane,” “I Never Knew,” “Lyresto” (bowed), and “Big Paul” are exemplary demonstrations of his achievement. Jimmy Cobb, also from the Davis rhythm section, is the steady timekeeper. Burrell, the rhythm section, and the “new” Coltrane would probably not meet on such equitable terms were they to record today. But that has nothing to do with what they were able to accomplish together in this album. And that was the creation of a music of high order and occasional revelation.
original liner notes
I WAS THE ENGINEER on the recording sessions and I also made the masters for the original LP issues of these albums. Since the advent of the CD, other people have been making the masters. Mastering is the final step in the process of creating the sound of the finished product. Now, thanks to the folks at the Concord Music Group who have given me the opportunity to remaster these albums, I can present my versions of the music on CD using modern technology. I remember the sessions well, I remember how the musicians wanted to sound, and I remember their reactions to the playbacks. Today, I feel strongly that I am their messenger. —RUDY VAN GELDER
KENNY BURRELL & JOHN COLTRANE
R E V I S I T E D THIS SESSION, COLTRANE’S LAST AS A SIDEMAN FOR PRESTIGE, produced some splendid music, with the unique duet on “Why Was I Born?” a standout. (Unique because it is the only Coltrane duet with a chordal instrument in his recorded legacy.) Kenny Burrell and Coltrane, while not frequent musical companions, were hardly strangers in March of 1958. They, and pianist Tommy Flanagan, had been together in Rudy Van Gelder’s studio 11 months before, for the date issued as The Cats, with Flanagan as the uncredited leader, and in March of 1951, they had worked and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie in Detroit, the guitarist’s hometown. But this was to be their most intimate and creative encounter. Happily still active today, Burrell is an undisputed master of the guitar and one of the most consistently excellent performers in jazz. Not an innovator like Wes Montgomery, he nevertheless has been a standard-setter for his vastly popular instrument. Live or on record, Burrell never fails to produce music of the highest caliber. Much the same could be said for his contemporary and fellow Detroiter Tommy Flanagan, still sorely missed by his legion of friends and fans. There are generous helpings of his impeccable playing here, and no less than two examples of his composing talent (a treat, since he was not prolific). “Big Paul” is a relaxed blues dedicated to the estimable Paul Chambers, and probably invented on the spot, as the kind of session stretcher favored by producer-owner Bob Weinstock, but “Freight Trane” is an interesting uptempo piece that seems made to order for Coltrane’s approach to improvisation of that moment and inspires an outstanding solo effort—the unison head that bookends the piece is a prime example of ensemble togetherness. Burrell’s original, “Lyresto,” is an attractive piece that reflects a Tadd Dameron influence (that’s a compliment, of course) and, if in a different vein from the caloric “Freight Trane,” also spotlights the pleasing sound produced by the Burrell-Coltrane unison lines.
As any seasoned listener hardly needs to be told, the support provided by Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb is flawless; the Miles Davis teammates-to-be are in perfect sync, and work hand-in-glove with Flanagan. And it should be pointed out that Burrell is also a superb accompanist. Reams have been written about John Coltrane, the last of the great jazz influences. At this stage of his ever-changing output, he had absorbed the lessons of his tenure with Thelonious Monk (of which we’ve recently been blessed with further audio evidence) and would soon perfect the vertical harmonic explorations that culminated (or rather, crystallized) in “Giant Steps” a bit more than a year later (with Flanagan on board, by the way). This is certainly foreshadowed in the “Freight Trane” solo. But to some of us, who savor the lyrical Coltrane, that brief but beautiful “Why Was I Born?” (a Jerome Kern classic he dealt with only this once), with its intimations of Coltrane’s time with the immortal Johnny Hodges, is a special treat. He never tackled “I Never Knew” again either, but the way he announces himself, after Burrell’s very Charlie Christian–flavored single-string outing, could not be mistaken for anyone else. Take note, in his second chorus, that the tune makes him think of Lester Young. The piano solo that follows is exquisite—with Tommy’s lovely touch, it spreads sunshine. And Chambers comes up with two pizzicato beauties. He bows (something he excelled at) on “Freight Trane,” which also features guitartenor exchanges, but not enough piano. That is made up for on “Big Paul,” where, to these ears, Flanagan is the star. He was a blues genius who absorbed Charlie Parker’s special way of enhancing that basic language, and his opening and closing solos tell a compelling story. Burrell also shows us his mastery of that essence. Coltrane’s solo, interestingly, is still conceived in choruses rather than a continuous statement; he ends in an agitated mood, and Burrell promptly lowers the tension, contrasting blues basics with Coltrane’s complexity. The dedicatee of this opus, needless to say, takes care of blues business in style. All this adds up to a fine taste of music vintage 1958, not a bit dated because the mainstream of jazz continues to flow—and Kenny Burrell continues to blow. Check him out, and if you already know this record, check out what Rudy has done with the sound! —DAN MORGENSTERN July 2005 Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University since 1976, Morgenstern is the author of Living with Jazz, published by Pantheon Books.
RVG REMASTERS SERIES:
1 FREIGHT TRANE (Tommy Flanagan) Prestige Music-BMI 7:19 2 I NEVER KNEW (Fiorito-Kahn) Bourne Co./ Gilbert Keyes Music-ASCAP 7:04 3 LYRESTO (Kenny Burrell) Elliot Music Co.-ASCAP 5:41 4 WHY WAS I BORN? (Kern-Hammerstein) UniversalPolygram Int’l Publ.-ASCAP 3:12 5 BIG PAUL (Flanagan) Prestige-BMI 14:04
KENNY BURRELL guitar JOHN COLTRANE tenor saxophone TOMMY FLANAGAN piano PAUL CHAMBERS bass JIMMY COBB drums
Recorded by RUDY VAN GELDER at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ; March 7, 1958. Supervision by BOB WEINSTOCK Cover photo/design | Don Schlitten Sculpture by Stylianos Gianakos Remastering, 2005 | Rudy Van Gelder (Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ) Reissue produced by Nick Phillips and Bob Porter Reissue production assistance | Stuart Kremsky
www.concordmusicgroup.com • Prestige/New Jazz Records, Tenth and Parker, Berkeley, CA 94710. π & © 2006, Concord Music Group, Inc., 100 North Crescent Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. All rights reserved.
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RUDY VAN GELDER REMASTERS