John Coltrane Live At Birdland (Impulse)
Jimmy Garrison (bass)
Elvin Jones (drums)
McCoy Tyner (piano)
John Coltrane (sax)
Live At Birdland (Impulse) probably isn't the first choice for most jazz critics. And I'm not a critic. So my choice is a wonderful and moving performance from one of the most famous venues in the world, Birdland. This date was recorded during the rise of the civil rights movement in the early '60s and the emotion can be felt when listening this to record. The experience of being there was probably even greater.
The two opening tracks "Afro-Blue" and "I Want To Talk About You" are heavy, intense and spiritual as I listen to them again this evening. At this point in his career (1963) Coltrane was already in a peak performance and would soon go on the explore the more spiritual side as heard in his following recordings such as the benchmark A Love Supreme (Impulse) and it's follow up Crescent (Impulse). His quartet at this time was one of consistentency and invention. To me it symbolized what the African American experience was during the sixties and how far reaching it could go in the future.
The album also includes two studio recordings including one of my personal favourites "Alabama" which has become a standard in the jazz repertoire. Not necessarily your average live date but more of a introspective journey--Live At Birdland is definitely one of the great live albums in my book. And a nice slice of history.