John Coltrane / John Coltrane Quartet

Sun Ship: The Complete Session

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Recorded on August 26, 1965 (and not released until after his death), Sun Ship was the final recording by John Coltrane's quartet with drummer Elvin Jones, pianist McCoy Tyner, and bassist Jimmy Garrison. Pharoah Sanders would join the group the following month, and Tyner and Jones would depart in January of 1966 to be replaced by Alice Coltrane and Rashied Ali. It is also one of the saxophonist's most intense taped performances. After nearly four years together, this band had achieved a vital collective identity. When Coltrane moved toward metrically free styles of rhythm and melody (with tunes often based on one chord or a short series of notes as themes), the quartet's rhythmic pulse and collective interplay evolved accordingly. The original album featured edited and sometimes overdubbed performances of its four compositions. Sun Ship: The Complete Session delivers both complete versions of the album's performances, but also multiple takes of "Dearly Beloved," "Attaining," and the title track. There are inserts where edits and overdubs were clearly made, with studio dialogue, arrangement breakdowns, false starts, etc. Disc two contains eight different takes of "Ascent" (including the previously released version) as well as alternate and released takes of "Amen," and studio conversation. Author David Wild's detailed liner essay eloquently details the process in the album's creation and problems encountered, adding a keen insight into Bob Theile's and Coltrane's production methods and aesthetics. A set like this is obviously intended for the saxophonist's devotees, critics, and jazz historians, but even a casual listen offers a fascinating look at how different these sessions were from the final product.

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