John Coltrane, The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 05.21.12 in Reviews

The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings

John Coltrane

This four-disc monument might be the most narrowly focused of great boxed sets — recorded over the course of four nights in early November, 1961, just as Coltrane entered a period of incredible creative fertility. He was experimenting with the sound of his group (the core quartet is supplemented with appearances by wild-card Eric Dolphy and a handful of other musicians); “Chasin’ the Trane” has only the hint of a theme, and the exquisite ballad “Naima” gets its melody turned inside out. Producer Bob Thiele’s recordings of these shows were excerpted for an album and a half in the ’60s, but every track here displays Coltrane and company pushing at the boundaries of what jazz could be.