1. The Father And The Son And The Holy Ghost
This recording of John Coltrane's five-part suite MEDITATIONS is one of the most cohensive, wide-ranging and exploratory efforts of the jazz saxophonist's career. By this point, Coltrane had embraced free jazz, and his enlisting of Pharaoh Sanders on second saxophone brought a kindred spirit, though a distinctive counterweight as Sanders' style with its overblowing and multiphonics was unique. Similarly, the signing on of Rashied Ali on drums alongside Coltrane's longtime drummer Elvin Jones opened the rhythmic possibilities of the music greatly. Bassist Jimmy Garrison and pianist McCoy Tyner are also present. Coltrane's free jazz does not always appeal to neophytes. At the opening of the first part, "The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost", we hear only inchoate honking on the two saxophones before the main melody arises, and the rest of the track is explosions of sound where the energy perpetually seems at a peak but paradoxically keeps on rising. However, if you've followed Coltrane's career all the way up to this point, the continuity is obvious. Just as it's a mistake to think Arnold Schoenberg talentless or academic for writing atonal music when he was really searching more direct emotional expression, Coltrane's unrestrained explorations are only the cries of his heart and soul. From this point on, the suite becomes a tad more tame. That's in part due to the fact that "Compassion", the suite's second part, is a long solo for Tyner, whose stylings hadn't completedly transitioned to free jazz. "Love", the third part, has a long, slow duet for Coltrane and Garrison, and when the rest of the ensemble joins in, things nonetheless remain very calm. "Consequences" recapitulates the first part to some extent. The closing "Serenity" is the most similar music here to A LOVE SUPREME. This is a wonderful record, and if you've already come to love early Coltrane, this is probably the best introduction to his late style.