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John Coltrane - Ascension (2000) Retail CD
Few works remain genuinely controversial 35 years after their inception, but Ascension can generate as mixed a response today as it did when it was released. In May 1965, Coltrane assembled 10 other musicians for one of his most ambitious recordings, a 40-minute piece that was a landmark in the free-jazz movement and a key moment in Coltrane's sponsorship of the younger members of the New York avant-garde. Along with his regular rhythm section--McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones--the band includes trumpeters Dewey Johnson and Freddie Hubbard, tenor saxophonists Archie Shepp and Pharoahmore… Sanders, altoists Marion Brown and John Tchicai and Art Davis playing bowed bass. The improvised ensembles shout and cry with galvanizing power, their tension testifying to Coltrane's influence and the saxophone's dominance in the style. It's both brilliant and flawed work, however, in ways that go to the heart of Coltrane's musical thought. It's rooted in modal music, with a brief pentatonic figure (a variation on the opening motif of A Love Supreme) as its basis. While it's broken up by the intense ensembles, the string of solos seems too close to a Jazz at the Philharmonic approach to free jazz. The horns stretch toward energy music, while the rhythm section, particularly Tyner, seems rooted in modality. As a result, the soloists often come off the ring blowouts to find themselves with little more support than a reiterated chord, and they sometimes seem to merely run out of steam. It's still startling music, though, and necessary listening, whether for the sheer power of the ensembles, the sustained creativity of Coltrane and Sanders, the stylistic contrasts in the horn players, or the acerbic understatement of Tchicai, so effective in the midst of the maelstrom. Coltrane couldn't decide on which of the two versions he preferred, and Edition II was covertly substituted for Edition I during the run of the original LP. This CD manages to include both. --Stuart Broomer
- John Coltrane - Ascension (2000) Retail CD
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- 07/11/11 by amsreddevil
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