Newly-Discovered John Coltrane Album, Blue World, To Be Released in September: Hear the Title Track Now

In the pho­to on the cov­er of soon-to-be-released Coltrane album Blue World, the leg­endary sax­o­phon­ist and com­pos­er is shown in pro­file, gaz­ing into the mid­dle dis­tance, res­olute, vig­i­lant, and searching—a ship’s cap­tain sight­ing a new shore. Record­ed at Rudy Van Gelder’s study in New Jer­sey in 1964, the col­lec­tion of songs sees Coltrane guid­ing clas­sic quar­tet of McCoy Tyn­er, Jim­my Gar­ri­son, and Elvin Jones between 1964’s “epic albumCres­cent and their 1965 mas­ter­piece, A Love Supreme.

Like the “lost album,” Both Direc­tions at Once—made in 1963 and released just last year—the new­ly-dis­cov­ered Blue World show­cas­es some excel­lent alter­nate takes of famous Coltrane com­po­si­tions, as well as new (to most lis­ten­ers) orig­i­nal mate­r­i­al in the form of the title track, which you can hear in the video above. The album was record­ed as a sound­track to the film Le chat dans le sac by Que­be­coise direc­tor Gilles Groulx, and the session’s “date had gone unno­ticed” for decades “in ses­sion record­ings logs” reports Nate Chi­nen at NPR. “The music has occu­pied a blind spot for Trane-olo­gists, archivists and his­to­ri­ans.

The full album, to be released on Sep­tem­ber 27th, fea­tures two alter­nate takes of Giant Steps’ “Naima,” three takes of “Vil­lage Blues” and alter­nate record­ings of “Like Son­ny” and “Trane­ing In.” Blue World “offers a spe­cial oppor­tu­ni­ty,” notes Ash­ley Kahn in the album’s lin­er notes, “to com­pare these ver­sions with pre­vi­ous per­spec­tives, reveal­ing both Coltrane’s per­son­al progress and the inter­ac­tive con­sis­ten­cy and son­ic details the Clas­sic Quar­tet had firm­ly estab­lished as their col­lec­tive sig­na­ture.”

Fans of Groulx’s film will have heard 10 min­utes of Blue World in the film, which is all the direc­tor end­ed up using of the 37-minute ses­sion, though the movie’s first view­ers may not have known exact­ly what they were hear­ing in the title track, whose “method­i­cal yet unscript­ed push into dif­fer­ent tonal cen­ters,” writes Chi­nen, express­es “a form of incan­ta­to­ry fer­vor” as a pre­lude to A Love Supreme. This posthu­mous release presages Coltrane’s modal forms mov­ing into what is arguably the great­est, and most per­son­al, work of his career.

The album also joins the dis­tin­guished com­pa­ny of jazz sound­tracks for French New Wave films, like the Miles Davis-scored Ele­va­tor to the Gal­lows, direct­ed by Louis Malle. Inspired by Godard and his jazz-lov­ing con­tem­po­raries, Groulx’s very New Wave style can be seen in the excerpts from Le Chat dans le sac in the video at the top (and in the full film here). Coltrane’s rest­less ener­gy con­tin­ues to sur­prise and inspire over fifty years after his death, show­ing, per­haps, that there real­ly “is nev­er any end,” as he told Nat Hentoff around the time of Blue World’s record­ing. “There are always new sounds to imag­ine; new feel­ings to get at” in his time­less sound.

Look for Blue World from Impulse! records on Sep­tem­ber 27th. See a full track­list, cour­tesy of Spin, below.

01 Naima (Take 1)
02 Vil­lage Blues (Take 2)
03 Blue World
04 Vil­lage Blues (Take 1)
05 Vil­lage Blues (Take 3)
06 Like Son­ny
07 Trane­ing In
08 Naima (Take 2)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stream Online the Com­plete “Lost” John Coltrane Album, Both Direc­tions at Once

Jazz Decon­struct­ed: What Makes John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” So Ground­break­ing and Rad­i­cal?

Watch Miles Davis Impro­vise Music for Ele­va­tor to the Gal­lows, Louis Malle’s New Wave Thriller (1958)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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