A Pakistani Orchestra & Wynton Marsalis Play an Enchanting Version of John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things”

Every­one knows “My Favorite Things.” Most know it because of the 1965 movie ver­sion of the Broad­way musi­cal for which Richard Rodgers orig­i­nal­ly com­posed the song. But many jazz enthu­si­asts cred­it the one true “My Favorite Things” to a dif­fer­ent musi­cal genius entire­ly: John Coltrane. The free jazz-pio­neer­ing sax­o­phon­ist’s ver­sion of Rodgers’ show tune (a filmed per­for­mance of which we fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture a few years ago) first came out as the title track of an album he put out in 1961, two years after The Sound of Music’s orig­i­nal Broad­way debut. Clock­ing in at near­ly four­teen min­utes, it gave lis­ten­ers a tour de force demon­stra­tion of dra­mat­ic musi­cal trans­for­ma­tion.

“In 1960, Coltrane left Miles [Davis] and formed his own quar­tet to fur­ther explore modal play­ing, freer direc­tions, and a grow­ing Indi­an influ­ence,” says the doc­u­men­tary The World Accord­ing to John Coltrane. “They trans­formed ‘My Favorite Things,’ the cheer­ful pop­ulist song from ‘The Sound of Music,’ into a hyp­not­ic east­ern dervish dance. The record­ing was a hit and became Coltrane’s most request­ed tune—and a bridge to broad pub­lic accep­tance.”

If Coltrane’s inter­pre­ta­tion of the song brought it toward the East, what would an East­ern inter­pre­ta­tion of his inter­pre­ta­tion sound like? Now, thanks to Pak­istan’s Sachal Jazz Ensem­ble, you can hear, and see, Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” itself trans­formed dra­mat­i­cal­ly again.

You may remem­ber the Sachal Jazz Ensem­ble from when we fea­tured their per­for­mance of Dave Brubeck­’s “Take Five.” In the video up top, led by no less an Amer­i­can jazz lumi­nary than Win­ton Marsalis, they and their tra­di­tion­al instru­ments (bansuri, tabla, sitar, dho­lak, and more), played with a mod­ern sen­si­bil­i­ty, give a sim­i­lar treat­ment to “My Favorite Things.” Their inter­pre­ta­tion, though it runs only a com­par­a­tive­ly brisk eight min­utes or so, will sound quite unlike any jazz stan­dard you’ve ever heard — or any show tune or piece of tra­di­tion­al Pak­istani music, for that mat­ter. It also hints at the vast musi­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties still untapped by the hybridiza­tion of musi­cal tra­di­tions, even when used to play a song many of us thought we’d been sick of for the past fifty years.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pak­istani Musi­cians Play a Delight­ful Ver­sion of Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Clas­sic, “Take Five”

Watch John Coltrane and His Great Quin­tet Play ‘My Favorite Things’ (1961)

Mis­ter Rogers Turns Kids On to Jazz with Help of a Young Wyn­ton Marsalis and Oth­er Jazz Leg­ends (1986)

Wyn­ton Marsalis Gives 12 Tips on How to Prac­tice: For Musi­cians, Ath­letes, or Any­one Who Wants to Learn Some­thing New

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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