I love this laid-back performance by John Coltrane of Naima. Seven minutes of pure joy. This piece first appeared in his album, Giant Steps, and is composed and named after his then wife, Naima Grubb. If you listen to Giant Steps, it will really take you to a journey, where Trane’s mastery of the saxophone is the story, and his music a great narrator of his life.
A review of his album from Amazon.com:
Released in January 1960, John Coltrane’s first album devoted entirely to his own compositions confirmed his towering command of tenor saxophone and his emerging power as a composer. Apprenticeships with Dizzy, Miles, and Monk had helped focus his furious, expansive solos, and his stamina and underlying sense of harmonic adventure brought Coltrane, at 33, to a new cusp–the polytonal “sheets of sound” that distinguished his marathon solos were offset by interludes of subtle, concise lyricism, embodied here in the tender “Naima.” That classic ballad is a calm refuge from the ecstatic, high-speed runs that spark the set’s up-tempo climaxes, which begin with the opening title song, itself a cornerstone of modern jazz composition. This exemplary reissue benefits from eight alternate takes of the original album’s seven stellar tracks, excellent remastering of the original tapes, and an expanded annotation.
I love watching this not only because it’s a rare feat to be able to witness the master at work; it’s because I feel like I’m being pulled into a vortex. John Coltrane practices great restraint while still portraying passion. The smoky room, the sweat on their faces, the mad, wicked fingers – it seemed like time stopped altogether to listen to John Coltrane reach the apex; it’s very, very exhilarating. And that kind of high is something you don’t get from ordinary things.
I also love Naima because the Trane takes his time, and even lets McCoy Tyner (piano), Jimmy Garrison (bass), and Elvin Jones (drums) tell their own story, weaving their own rhythms and tunes to Trane’s.
And because I can’t express my love for Naima any more than I already did, you might want to go over here, where different interpretations for one of the Trane’s greatest pieces ever are explored and discussed.
Last year was John Coltrane‘s 40th death anniversary. I thought I’d repost this documentary that was made in honor of the late Trane and the enigmatic Rollins today, since we’re remembering another year that John Coltrane is not with us anymore.
From this site:
It was forty years ago today that John Coltrane died, yet his influence remains profound. A new film by Bret Primack, “Like Sonny” — part six of the ongoing Sonny Rollins Podcast series — celebrates the life and music of this remarkable creator by detailing the story of Trane’s unique friendship with Rollins. The film’s title is from a song Coltrane wrote about Rollins, taking the melody from a phrase he heard Sonny play.
The thirteen-minute documentary features interviews with Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Heath, and Paul Jeffrey; an excerpt from a 1960 radio interview with John Coltrane; and video performances by ‘Trane and Sonny.
Rest easy, Mr. Coltrane. We are still breathing your music.
Another sublime performance from Anita O’Day, singing Tea for Two at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. Watching her scat is heaven! Her playfulness with the audience and the band is lovely to watch, and once again I wish I was born decades earlier. What I would give to be there on that fine afternoon, eating ice dream, enjoying the breeze and Anita’s voice.
Picture you upon my knee
Just tea for two
And two for tea
Just me for you
And you for me alone
Anita O’Day is one of the more understated vocal jazz artists of our time, but is certainly one of my favourites.
I like her style: that hip demeanor and fantastic voice, the way she breathes life into her songs. With her charisma, it’s not hard to fall in love with Anita O’Day‘s magic. It’s not only her music that has inspired me, but her life as well. She went through so much during her career, and it’s incredible how she stood up to the hardships all these years.
From the site:
[Anita O’Day] is one of the few white female jazz vocalists who ever rose to the pantheon of greatness in a field dominated by Ellas, Carmens, Billies and Sarahs. Onstage, she could swing without peers of any age, color or gender. But privately, she was a walking catastrophe. She survived four failed marriages, arrest, jail time, alcoholism, rape, abortions and 15 years of heroin addiction. For seven decades, she recorded and toured relentlessly, showcasing an exquisite, smoky style that was tonally pure, rhythmically precise, and suffused with dazzling bebop pyrotechnics. Vintage clips from her long career, including jaw-dropping performances from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival in which she commands both the band and the audience with a feisty authority not often seen in women of her day, prove it.
…Her refusal to wallow in her misfortunes or play the victim is refreshing, but it’s a life that will make you slack-jawed. The music…will stop your heart; the facts of her criminal life will break it.
Here’s a clip from 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, with Anita O’Day singing Sweet Georgia Brown:
It has been a year of journey and jazz, and I couldn’t be happier! 🙂 When I first started this site, I had no idea that it would be as big as it is now. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, and after years of thinking, I thought, I should just do it. And feel my way around over time. Improvise, like Gershwin, and other jazz musicians I’ve encountered in my life, whose music have opened the world to me, who made my life more meaningful.
So here’s to spending another year of jazz! Thank you, my dear readers. Your support means so much to me.
And because my very first post was dedicated to The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Take Five, I thought I’d give you one of the very best contemporary performance of the song that I’ve seen in a long time. This is Kurt Elling and Al Jarreau in their vocal interpretation of Take Five in the show, Legends of Jazz.
Another performance from the Rainbow Room. Jane Monheit sings, It Might As Well Be Spring, a song I’ve played a hundred or so times before (Frank Sinatra’s and Nina Simone’s version), because hey, I love spring. Even if we don’t have that season here in Manila. 😦
I’m as busy as spider spinning daydreams, spinning spinning daydreams
I’m as giddy as a baby on a swing
I haven’t seen a crocus or a rosebud, or a robin on the wing
But I feel so gay in a melancholy way, that it might as well be spring
It might as well be spring
**If the video is not playing, please go here.