John Coltrane

Coltrane '58: The Prestige Recordings

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John Coltrane's Prestige recordings have been repackaged many times, beginning with a series of LPs released in the 1960s, long after he left the label. As far as the calendar goes, Coltrane wasn't with the label long, playing as a sideman in 1957, then spending 1958 as a leader. Only Soultrane came out during '58, with Standard Coltrane, Stardust, Bahia, and Dakar appearing much later, after Coltrane became a reliable star. Back in 1991, Fantasy packaged up everything in the 16-CD box The Prestige Recordings, and that hefty set became the standard bearer for Coltrane's Prestige sessions, but Craft's 2019 set Coltrane '58: The Prestige Recordings benefits from its narrow focus. Concentrating entirely on Coltrane's sessions as a leader during 1958, this box -- available either as a five-CD or eight-LP set -- marches through the year, presenting each session in chronological order. Even if this music is firmly anchored in swinging hard bop, this sequencing highlights Coltrane's rapid evolution. By the end of the set, he is well on his way to developing his signature sheets of sound, a modernist mode that found full flower on his records for Atlantic, but these sessions recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's studio crackle because the process of discovery is happening within the confines of loose, lively hard bop, supported by such stalwarts as pianist Red Garland, trumpeters Freddie Hubbard and Donald Byrd, bassist Paul Chambers, guitarist Kenny Burrell, and drummer Jimmy Cobb. While it's true that all this music is easy to find elsewhere, it's also true that Coltrane '58: The Prestige Recordings sounds sterling and is presented with thought and care, so anybody looking to dive into these classic recordings will find this a fine intro.

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