“John Coltrane: The Stardust Sessions” was originally released
as a double album by the Prestige label in 1975. However,
prior to that, two of the songs on it were from the album
“Bahia,” another two songs were from “Stardust,” and the
remaining four songs were on “Standard Coltrane.” Apparently,
record executives at Prestige decided to combine all eight
songs on one double album, naming the session after the
longest song. All of these songs were recorded on the same
day, July 11, 1958.
At any rate, with the exceptions of Wilbur Harden and
Jimmy Cobb, the band personnel recorded here had played
together many times, primarily as part of Miles Davis’ first great
quintet and sextet. John Coltrane (1926-1967) had already
recorded numerous records as a bandleader, beginning
during the previous year. By the time this session was
recorded, his formidable abilities as a soloist had already
been apparent for a while. There is some superb playing from
Coltrane here, which is replete with many of the fast flurries
of notes through a chord, while en route to the ultimate note,
“sheets of sound” style. He would develop this style
further while recording the following year for Atlantic, before
going in different directions during the 1960’s, under the
“Impulse!” label. Nevertheless, as of July 1958, the playing
he exhibited here was fairly representative of his playing
at the time.
The eight songs on this 69-minute CD are all of the
“Jazz standard” variety; none of them are original compositions
from these band members. These are just superb
extemporization on existing tunes by formidable Jazz musicians.
In addition to the aforementioned Wilbur Harden on trumpet
and flugelhorn and Jimmy Cobb on drums, the disc features
longtime Miles Davis alumni, including bassist Paul Chambers
and Red Garland on piano.
While these renditions certainly don’t “push the envelope”
in terms of innovation, they nevertheless show how standard
Jazz arrangements can sound when topnotch musicians
assemble for a one-day “blowing session” at Rudy Van Gelder’s
Studio in Hackensack, New Jersey. This is very tasteful and
enjoyable Jazz, as well as an important page in John Coltrane’s
development as a player.