It's difficult to go wrong with this compilation of mid to late 50's Prestige and Riverside recordings in which John Coltrane plays with the some of the greatest musicians of the era. Opening with the memorable "Airegin," a cut by the Miles Davis Quintet (for whom Coltrane was the permanent tenor), the record documents, in chronological fashion, the saxophonist's move from talented, impressive sideman to master and transformer of the instrument. Davis, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones are a few of the "giants" that appear on this collection.
Two selections of Coltrane's work with Thelonious Monk are also included: a gorgeous version of "Monk's Mood" and "Trinkle, Tinkle," in which Coltrane executes an extraordinarily athletic, experimental solo. One can almost hear Coltrane pushing, developing and expanding in these tracks, his horn racing and looping through treatments of classic bop, from Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce" to the dizzying, dangerous evisceration of "Soft Lights and Sweet Music" and Rodgers and Hart's "Lover" (which also features fine trumpet work by Donald Byrd). JOHN COLTRANE AND THE JAZZ GIANTS is a disc of outstanding takes with some of the finest players in mid-century jazz, showcasing Coltrane's mesmerizing and tremendously influential elocution.