everybodydigs#128 John Coltrane – Lush Life

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everybodydigs# is a series of posts about Jazz, Funk, Soul & R’n’b albums released from the 20s to the 90s, you can read a brief description/review and listen to a small preview (when it’s possible). everybodydigs# is like when someone tells you “hey you should listen to this album!” and nothing less, enjoy!

Lush Life (1958) is among John Coltrane’s best endeavors on the Prestige label. One reason can easily be attributed to the interesting personnel and the subsequent lack of a keyboard player for the August 16, 1957 session that yielded the majority of the material. Coltrane (tenor sax) had to essentially lead the compact trio of himself, Earl May (bass), and Art Taylor (drums). The intimate setting is perfect for ballads such as the opener “Like Someone in Love.” Coltrane doesn’t have to supplement the frequent redundancy inherent in pianists, so he has plenty of room to express himself through simple and ornate passages. Unifying the slippery syncopation and slightly Eastern feel of “I Love You” is the tenor’s prevalent capacity for flawless, if not downright inspired on-the-spot “head” arrangements that emerge singular and clear, never sounding preconceived. Even at an accelerated pace, the rhythm section ably prods the backbeat without interfering. A careful comparison will reveal that “Trane’s Slo Blues” is actually a fairly evident derivation (or possibly a different take) of “Slowtrane.” But don’t let the title fool you as the mid-tempo blues is undergirded by a lightheartedness. May provides a platform for Coltrane’s even keeled runs before the tenor drops out, allowing both May and then Taylor a chance to shine. The fun cat-and-mouse-like antics continue as Taylor can be heard encouraging the tenor player to raise the stakes and the tempo — which he does to great effect. The practically quarter-hour reading of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” is not only the focal point of this album, it is rightfully considered as one of Coltrane’s unqualified masterworks. (allmusic)

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