5 early albums from John Coltrane – packaged together in mini LP-styled jackets! First up is Soultrane, a bold early statement from a young John Coltrane – and an album that really has him expanding his talents as a tenor soloist! Coltrane's working here in open-ended quartet format – with backing from the Red Garland
trio that includes Paul Chambers and Art Taylor – on a set of longer tunes that really let the young Trane stretch out on his solos, unobstructed by any other horns in the lineup. There's a nice mix of hardbop ideals, gentle ballads, and personal soul to the set – and titles include Coltrane's classic reading of Tadd Dameron's "Good Bait", plus "I Want To Talk About You", "Russian Lullaby", and "Theme For Ernie". Lush Life is strong work from John Coltrane's early years as a leader – even if the album is sort of a collection of tracks that Trane recorded for Prestige, instead of a discreetly separate session! Side one features Coltrane's tenor in a spare setting with Earl May on bass and Art Taylor on drums – playing mellow tunes like "I Love You" and "Like Someone In Love", as well as the original "Trane's Slow Blues". Side two features a blowing session mode – with Donald Byrd, Red Garland
, Paul Chambers, and Louis Hayes – on the cuts "Lush Life" and "I Hear A Rhapsody". Dakar is a very unique little record that features twin baritone sax support from Pepper Adams and Cecil Payne! Both players are wonderfully hip here – more than enough to match Trane's unique musical vision for the group's format – and the sound of the session is much edgier than some of his other Prestige work – which may be why the label chose not to issue it until 1963, even though it was recorded back in '57. There's a nice roughness here – the same inspirational early sound you'll get on Coltrane's early sides for Savoy or Imperial – and other players include Mal Waldron on piano, Doug Watkins on bass, and Art Taylor on drums. Titles include "Cat Walk", "Dakar", "Route 4", "Velvet Scene", and "Witches Pit". Bahia is a set that includes some very compelling sounds from the early years, really showing the tenorist in a strongly spiritual transition! Coltrane plays tenor throughout, and the record also features the Red Garland
trio, with Red
on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and either Art Taylor or Jimmy Cobb on drums – but the set also features trumpet from the great Wilbur Harden on half the record – Coltrane's frequent partner over at Savoy Records, who comes into the music here with the sort of searching, open style that works so well with Trane's tenor! The music is partly in the Garland
Coltrane late 50s Prestige mode, but also has some of the deeper spiritual vibe of the Savoy years too – and titles include "I'm A Dreamer Aren't We All", "Something I Dreamed Last Night", "Bahia", and "Goldsboro Express". The final CD is album's titled The Last Trane because it represents the last material that Prestige Records had in its vault from the time that John Coltrane was recording for the label in the late 50s. Titles were recorded on 3 different dates from 1957 and 1958 – mostly with Red Garland
on piano, and also featuring some additional horn work by Donald Byrd on 2 tracks. The album's got a great spare track called "Slowtrane" – one that features Coltrane playing with only bass and drums for accompaniment – and which recalls the genius of some of his sessions for Transition or Imperial. Byrd's blowing alongside the tenor on versions of "Lover" and "Come Rain Or Come Shine" – and the set's rounded up by a nice open-ended track called "By The Numbers", which has a warm bluesy solo by Trane!