John Coltrane ‘Standard Coltrane’ (Prestige Rudy Van Gelder edition) 4/5

This 1958 session predates the epic ‘Kind of Blue’ by one year and features half of that classic line up. In many ways the recording is a precursor to the Coltrane ‘Ballads Album’ with the notable difference that ‘Standard Coltrane’ showcases four extended standards on a superior blowing date, and as such enables the listener to enjoy the sheer beauty of ‘Trane’s playing with sensitive accompaniment on piano arriving in the shape of Red Garland and trumpeter Wilbur Harden. In fact the album was originally issued four years after the recording date to cash in on Coltrane’s new found success. Taken at a slower tempo than per usual and meandering for over ten minutes, ‘Invitation’ is transformed into a leisurely blues with lovely bass soloing from Paul Chambers. Trumpeter Harden is featured at length on the Rodgers and Hart composition ‘Spring is here’, playing in unison with Coltrane. Perhaps the jewel in the crown is the ballad ‘Don’t take your love from me’ with a beautifully restrained solo from Garland. Clearly the pianist had a natural empathy with the tenor saxophonist. New sleeve notes from jazz writer Ashley Kahn shed new light on the historical importance of the session and the re-mastering by original engineer Rudy Van Gelder is clear. No extra tracks.

Tim Stenhouse