Looking back on it, it's strange that the first real blast of jazz I put on the blog here was that Peter Brötzmann post. That was on the outer limits of even free jazz, but it proved popular. Whether it was due to it's rarity or my selling of it, I don't know. But now, I want to get to somebody who's at the center of my love and learning of jazz, and who everybody should listen to.
John Coltrane has been a part of my jazz listening from the very beginning. In fact, he was a sideman on the first two jazz albums I ever bought - Kind Of Blue and Monk's Music. As much as I've found other sax players I love - and we'll get to 'em - Coltrane is the Alpha and Omega of the instrument for me. Like Hendrix. In fact, given that John died in '67, I've long harbored the thought that somehow his spirit got into Jimi on his way up... but it burned too intensely and Jimi's body couldn't take it for long. Would explain a lot, wouldn't it?
Anyway, what we have here is a box set of JC's 1950's material. Back then, before his signing to Atlantic and (later) Impulse, he recorded prolifically for Bob Weinstock's Prestige label - as a leader, a featured sideman, or as part of name-heavy jamming dates. Much of this stuff was released once as The Complete Prestige Recordings (way OOP), but 8 or 9 years ago the material was reissued. And reflecting those three aspects of JC's recording for the label, they were now divided into the box sets Fearless Leader, Side Steps, and Interplay.
Fearless Leader is presented here. It contains all the sessions that Coltrane recorded of bands he was leading. I'm sorry I don't have a good file of the exhaustive booklet, but suffice to say there's some great classic jazz here. Having this six disc set replaces 11 different Coltrane albums from his early years. Plenty of standards, yes, but also some of his originals. Coltrane could wring emotion out of a ballad like no else, and roll along on a blues masterfully. You can watch the birth of the "sheets of sound" here.
I know this is the second time lately I've dropped a pallet load of music on ya without a tracklist or mentioning personnel or individual songs. It is a pile of gloriously beautiful jazz, guys; dive in it and it will contextualize itself. It's all essential, trust me.