The John Coltrane Quartet Plays is one of Coltrane’s latest records, and it’s an interesting one because it functions as a link between two eras.
The first, is his early Impulse years, where he explored and expanded the boundaries of jazz and went ‘free’.
The other is his short yet important atonal period where he released the fascinating and challenging Ascension and Meditation albums, among others.
And still, despite the time it was recorded, Coltrane sounds like he’s going retro a bit, to the fields of late late hard bop days, going through the ‘free’ prisma, of course.
This album was released after his Love Supreme masterpiece was out, and of course, like any album that was released after a masterpiece – it’s somehow forgotten. I swear I like R.E.M’s Monster much more then ‘Automatic’. Same for Smiley Smile. So I won’t let this album be forgotten, as it deserves your attention, and your soul deserves this album.
He tried to use that popular-tune-goes-free-jazz formula (like he did with Greensleeves and My Favorite Things), and just delicately abuses Chim Chim Cheree, with his lyrical Soprano playing.
He also handles Nature Boy, with a great care and sensitivity (the album bonus tracks futures a stunning live version). The quartet plays amazingly in Nature Boy, especially Jimmy Garrison in one of his finest Quartet moments.
Art Davis is the guest bass player and both him and Garrison are doing an amazing job in Song Of Praise, that starts with Garrison’s chords and continues with tense feeling Davis brings with his bow. Coltrane plays so beautifully, that you wanna cry.
In the album bonus tracks, there’s a beautiful version of Feelin’ Good, this is McCoy’s moment in the album.
The album sounds like Coltrane wanted to close one door just to open a new one, where he’ll focus all his energies on one of his most important works – Ascension, a second before his gentle song is burnt.