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Non-Prog CD Reviews

John Coltrane

So Many Things: The European Tour 1961

Review by Gary Hill

This compilation gathers up all the live recordings from Coltrane’s 1961 European tour. It’s a great set. I love the song “My Favourite Things” and we get quite a few performances of that song here. That makes this four disc set worth having as far as I’m concerned. There is a lot more to like about this, though. If you like Coltrane, you really should get this. These performances are well worth having. You might not find yourself listening to it start to finish too often, but even just putting one disc on and letting it play, this works well.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1

   
Blue Train

This leads off with a stripped back arrangement. It works out from there into a full on jam with lots of energy and melody. This is really quite a journey, lasting about 16 minutes and covering a lot of territory. It’s one heck of a performance.    

I Want to Talk About You
Here we get a much shorter piece. It’s also less intense, landing more in the vein of mellower music. Although it’s slower, it’s not lacking for passion or drama. It’s a nice respite from the intensity of the opener in a lot of ways. The piano really gets to show off on this number.
Impressions
This is both a longer piece (almost eleven minutes) and a more intense one. The drums are just plain on fire here, but the whole band is really.              
My Favourite Things
Frankly, I think Coltrane’s version of this song is my all time favorite jazz song. Weighing in at about 22 and a half minutes in length, this is one epic length piece. This performance clearly does it justice. It has a living energy and vibe. The soloing is impeccable and the whole thing just works so well. I can’t speak highly enough of this song or this performance.
Blue Train
Another version of the song that opened the set, I think this one is better. For one thing, the sound quality seems superior. The performance seems a bit less on fire, but more melodic and passionate. Both versions are great, though, so it’s a matter of degrees.
Disc 2
  
I Want to Talk About You
I really love the melodic explorations here. This is such a powerful cut. It seems a bit more intense than the earlier version. This is also a couple minutes longer than that one.       
My Favourite Things
I can never get enough of this song. So, it’s great to have multiple live versions. I like this one every bit as much as the previous one. It’s another classic epic jam. Perhaps the mix is a bit more balanced on this take.
Announcement
This is literally a couple minutes of announcements, including the introductions of the musicians.
Delilah
A song we’ve not heard before on this set, the rhythm section leads it at the start. This is another smoking hot jazz arrangement. It is driving and powerful and they take it through a number of changes in the nearly twelve minute course.
Everytime We Say Goodbye

At five minutes, this is a considerably shorter piece. It’s also slow and very pretty.  

Impressions
This smoking hot number runs over eleven minutes. It gets into some serious wailing at times. It’s high energy, dynamic and strong. It’s not one of my favorites, though. It wanders a bit too far into noisy territory for my tastes at times.     
Naima
On many albums a seven and a half minute song would be one of the lengthier ones. That’s not the case here. This lands as one of the shorter numbers. It’s a fairly slow moving and almost mysterious piece. It has some great melody and the piano really shines.
Disc 3
    
My Favourite Things (False Start)/John Coltrane Announcement

This is just what it says it is. There’s a mis-communication at the start which Coltrane explains to the audience.

My Favourite Things
Here we get a nearly 29 minute rendition of my favorite jazz cut. The horn kind of blares at times, cutting a bit too far upward in the mix, I think. That’s mostly at the start, though. It evens out for the majority of the track. The flute solo on this gets a little abrasive at times, too. There are some issues later in the song involving the volume rising and falling. Still, you know how I feel about this song.
Blue Train

This might be my favorite version of this number here. It’s purely on fire. I love the drumming and the whole piece just soars. It handles the road like a dream.

I Want to Talk About You
Another inspired and smoking hot live jazz performance, this is great.       
Impressions
Here we get another scorching rendition of the earlier piece. I love some of the soloing in this one in particular.
My Favourite Things
This is a roughly 21 minute version of the song. It’s got some particularly inspired moments as far as I’m concerned.
Disc 4
     
Blue Train

I love the horn song on the opening of this performance of the piece. The whole piece is potent and one of the more powerful jams of the set.

Naima
At just over four minutes, this is a very short one, relatively. It’s a pretty and mellow performance.
Impressions
This is another of the best performances here. It’s just plain awe-inspiring. Everyone just really gels on this take.
My Favourite Things
Here we get another awesome live performance of “My Favourite Things.” By this point, there aren’t any big surprises, but this just never misses. This is a classy rendition for sure.
My Favourite Things
The recording on this one seems a bit muddled and distant. The performance is still top-notch, but it really does suffer from that audio problem.
 
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