Within a very narrow chronological window of opportunity, Fantasy comes up with an attractive, if by definition limited, single-CD sampler of its monster The Prestige Recordings box, with an additional cut from Riverside's Jazzland label. By and large, this is the pre-revolutionary Coltrane of the '50s blowing sessions, a late bloomer just beginning his search for a way out of hard bop's conventions. Coltrane's eloquent way with ballads had been established by now, and the outlines of his "sheets of sound" manner can be heard developing in spots, but the logic, fire, and spiritual richness that the faithful cherish most were still well in the future. Not surprisingly, there are no examples of Coltrane's work with Miles Davis for Prestige here, although Davis' rhythm sections turn up in varying configurations, and the sole Jazzland track gives us a sample of Coltrane's life-changing gig with Thelonious Monk (the often-reissued "Ruby, My Dear"). This CD will be interesting to those who want to hear an early stage of Coltrane's progress, but only an occasional track like the extended "Good Bait" will thrill those seeking the "truth according to John."
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell