John Coltrane On Impulse!: Play By Play
updated 4 months ago
In June 2018, the venerated jazz label Impulse! Records released Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, a collection of rediscovered 1963 recordings by the legendary saxophonist John Coltrane.
Within the grooves, Coltrane finds himself both honoring and straining at jazz tradition — a conservative hard bop listener can dive in and enjoy the music, but it also foreshadows the free-form experimentation that he’d pursue until his death from liver cancer in 1967.
After Coltrane found himself going Both Directions 55 years ago, his career and musical thinking began rapidly accelerating toward the unknown.
Whereas many artists enjoy distinct phases in measurements of years at a time, Coltrane was capable of changing day-by-day. On September 30, 1965, he recorded the brain-breakingly atonal Live in Seattle. The next day, he recorded Om, which begins with sinewy Hindu chants.
He was capable of both massive expansion — coaxing a big band’s worth of players into violent noise — and arresting minimalism — sending the pianist and bassist home so he and a drummer could battle it out in harmonic free-fall.
Coltrane recorded more than enough world-class jazz before he joined the Impulse! roster with a swipe of the pen in late 1961. But if you’re interested in what happened once he threw caution to the wind, casting off musical shackles at the risk of ire from the public, his fans or even his own collaborators, then this unrepeatable part of his discography is worth investigating.
In honor of the release of Both Directions at Once, here’s a rundown of every live, studio and compilation album under Coltrane’s name for Impulse! Records.