John Coltrane: Three Great European Performances, 1960, 1961 and 1965

These three Euro­pean tele­vi­sion pro­grams from the 1960s cap­ture the evo­lu­tion of John Coltrane’s jour­ney from side­man to band­leader.

In the first set, record­ed on March 28, 1960 in Dus­sel­dorf, Ger­many, Coltrane was unex­pect­ed­ly thrust into the spot­light when Miles Davis was unable play that day. It’s basi­cal­ly a per­for­mance of the Miles Davis Quin­tet with­out Davis. The line­up includes Coltrane on tenor sax­o­phone, Wyn­ton Kel­ly on piano, Paul Cham­bers on bass and Jim­my Cobb on drums.

The film was made dur­ing a Euro­pean tour billed as “Nor­man Granz’s Jazz at the Phil­har­mon­ic Presents Jazz Win­ners of 1960.” Two of the oth­er “Jazz Win­ners” were Stan Getz and Oscar Peter­son, both of whom join Coltrane and the band near the end of the Dus­sel­dorf set. Getz plays on the last few songs. It’s a his­toric session–the only known record­ing of the two great sax­o­phone play­ers per­form­ing togeth­er. At the begin­ning of the final song, Thelo­nious Monk’s “Hack­en­sack,” Peter­son taps Kel­ly on the shoul­der and takes over on the piano. Here’s the set list:

  1. On Green Dol­phin Street
  2. Walkin’
  3. The Theme
  4. Autumn leaves
  5. What’s New
  6. Autumn in New York
  7. Hack­en­sack

By all accounts, Coltrane was a bit grumpy dur­ing the Euro­pean tour of 1960. He was anx­ious to leave the Davis quin­tet and start his own band, but agreed to stay on through the end of the tour as a favor to Davis. In appre­ci­a­tion, Davis bought Coltrane his first sopra­no sax­o­phone while they were in Europe. The gift would have a sig­nif­i­cant effect on Coltrane’s music, as revealed in the next half-hour set, record­ed on Novem­ber 24, 1961 at the Süd­west­funk tele­vi­sion stu­dio in Badan-Baden, Ger­many. The band includes Coltrane on tenor and sopra­no sax­o­phones, Eric Dol­phy on alto sax­o­phone and flute, McCoy Tyn­er on Piano, Reg­gie Work­man on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. Here’s the set list:

  1. My Favorite Things
  2. Every­time We Say Good­bye
  3. Impres­sions

The last set was record­ed on August 1, 1965 in Comblain-la-Tour, Bel­gium, short­ly before the Euro­pean release of Coltrane’s clas­sic album A Love Supreme. The Clas­sic Quar­tet includes Coltrane on tenor and sopra­no sax­o­phones, Tyn­er on piano, Jones on drums and Jim­my Gar­ri­son on bass. Here’s the set list:

  1. Vig­il
  2. Naima
  3. My Favorite Things

As in the 1961 set, Coltrane and his com­bo stretch each song out. “It was about much more than just the length,” writes Ash­ley Kahn in the lin­er notes for the Jazz Icons DVD. “It was what the quar­tet deliv­ered in extend­ed dos­es: sus­tained, ele­vat­ing ener­gy and a marked den­si­ty of musi­cal ideas, a height­ened sense of dra­ma, and a sweat-induc­ing deliv­ery that seemed to some­how artic­u­late answers to spir­i­tu­al mys­ter­ies.”

Relat­ed con­tent:

John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’ Ani­mat­ed

John Coltrane Plays Only live Per­for­mance of A Love Supreme

‘The Sound of Miles Davis’: Clas­sic 1959 Per­for­mance with John Coltrane

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