Quite a different album than usual for John Coltrane, but a classic one too – and a set that has the great one exploring his ideas in a set of longer tracks recorded with an expanded jazz orchestra! The format's hardly the mainstream big band of the time – as Coltrane's filled the group with very hip players – including Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard, Julian Priester, and Eric Dolphy – in addition to usual compatriots who include McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman, and Elvin Jones. The tunes have a soaring, modal sort of pulse – one that's filled with color and light from the addition of the other horn players, but which still has plenty of space for extended, exploratory solos. Coltrane plays both tenor and soprano sax – and titles include the legendary 16 minute track "Africa", a classic reading of "Greensleeves", redone here as a modal searching spiritual track, and "Blues Minor". This 2 CD set also includes the album Coltrane Jazz. The title may be a simple one, but the record really marks a key point in John Coltrane's development – an embrace of the newer freedoms allowed to him at Atlantic Records, but in a way that's a bit more subtle than some of his other work for the label! At one level, the record moves at the same groove as Trane's later Prestige years – with rhythm mostly from Wynton Kelly
on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Jimmy Cobb on drums – carving out some sharp lines for Coltrane to cascade over on tenor sax. Yet there's also a new sense of darkness here too – one that moves into edgier territory, and which isn't nearly as settled in as before. These qualities sneak out of both original numbers like "Harmonique", "Fifth House", and "Like Sonny" – as well as standards like "My Shining Hour" and "Little Old Lady". And they really come to the forefront on the classic "Village Blues" – the one track that features the new Coltrane group of McCoy Tyner, Steve Davis, and Elvin Jones!