David Liebman

John Coltrane's Meditations

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On Nov. 23, 1965, John Coltrane recorded the finest album of his two-year collaboration with fellow tenor Pharoah Sanders, the intense and sometimes violent but spiritual Meditations. 'Trane utilized an expanded sextet that also included pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and both Elvin Jones and Rashied Ali. Tyner and Jones would soon depart, so this was the last meeting on records of those two masters with Coltrane. Thirty years later on Dec. 9, 1995, Dave Liebman revisited the five-part suite. Although all of the themes are utilized in the same order, Lieb's version is not a re-creation and even utilizes a different instrumentation: Liebman (who for a long time had specialized on soprano and flute) back on tenor, trumpeter Tiger Okoshi, Caris Viscentin on oboe, guitarist Vic Juris, Phil Markowitz on keyboards, both Tony Marino and Cecil McBee on bass, and Jamey Haddad and Billy Hart on drums. Some of the intensity of the original version is present, particularly on "Love" and "Consequences," but obviously the sound is quite a bit different, particularly with the use of guitar and electric keyboards, which take the place of Sanders' tenor. Although the heights of the earlier recording are not quite reached, Dave Liebman and his ensemble come awfully close at times, and their playing throughout the lengthy performance (which is both a little reverent and quite exploratory) is quite memorable. Recommended.

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