This double-LP compilation gathers the majority of the original Coltrane (1958) and Lush Life (1958) albums. The primary missing element is "Slowtrane" -- which is a direct derivation of "Trane's Slo Blues" or vice versa. Otherwise, John Coltrane's May 31 and August 16 sessions for Prestige Records can be found here. As there are always exceptions to the rule, it is fitting that the caveat to that last statement -- the resplendent instrumental version of "Lush Life" -- be first on the bill. For his signature reading of Billy Strayhorn's tune, Coltrane is backed by Red Garland (piano), Donald Byrd (trumpet), Paul Chambers (bass), and Louis Hayes (drums). Rarely does a single performance uncover the essence of an artist with such aptness. The well-crafted melody is treated above all with dignity, which may be part of the reason it remains flawless. Garland and Byrd should similarly be credited for their respective contributions as they help to provide a broader sonic pallet. "I Hear a Rhapsody" swings hard thanks to the solid support of Chambers and Albert "Tootie" Heath. A brief stylistic contrast can be found in the laid-back ballad "Like Someone in Love," which yields to the slithery syncopation of "I Love You" and the aforementioned "Slowtrane" copycat, "Trane's Slo Blues." The juxtaposition of these pieces is interesting as -- alongside the ubiquitous Coltrane -- Earl May (bass) and Arthur Taylor (drums) demonstrate their amazing versatility during their sole confab with 'Trane as bandleader.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer