The urban mythology surrounding this non-professional recording -- suggesting that Naima Coltrane (aka Mrs. John Coltrane) was running tape during this particular set -- is fortunately true. Fortunate, that is, for lovers of bop or anyone who ever wished in vain that they could be transported to a legendary night such as the one captured during this short disc. The raw nature of this audience tape more accurately reveals the reality of experiencing a performance during the Five Spot's halcyon days. What can also be found beyond the sporadic chatter and general hubbub of a New York City Harlem nightclub is arguably the strongest aural evidence of the unique working rapport these two jazz icons shared. While the relationship between Monk and Coltrane is at the crux of these performances, bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik and the irrepressible drummer Roy Haynes also contribute mightily by allowing enough context to support the soloists and pulling out occasional solos of their own. Haynes' interjections to "In Walked Bud" and "I Mean You" go beyond the simple progression of rhythm. While the perspective of this recording is somewhat unfavorable to Coltrane, there is no mistaking the intense activity of his tenor sax. His solo during "I Mean You" is particularly potent, as he somehow finds the room to incorporate a well-placed line or two from a popular show tune. No surprises are spoiled here for potential enthusiasts eager for a good sonic hide and seek. The version of "Crepuscule With Nellie" -- joined in progress, however only by a few bars -- best personifies both the character of this audience recording as well as the ability of the music's sublime nature to filter those distractions away. This combo's residency at the Five Spot during the summer of 1958 coincides with several other notable live sets cut during this time -- Thelonious in Action! and its counterpart, Misterioso. These two are professionally documented releases that capture much of the same verve, although they sadly lack Coltrane. The early CD pressings of Discovery! Live at the Five Spot ran a semitone too fast. When the set was remastered for inclusion in the four-disc Complete Blue Note Recordings, this was fixed and the corrected version issued in that box set. Caveat emptor.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer