John Coltrane on "Straight, No Chaser"

It's taken weeks, but I've almost memorized the entire 20+ choruses of this Trane solo on "Straight, No Chaser," a live take from '58 Sessions (originally released on Jazz At the Plaza in 1973). For the uninitiated, '58 Sessions is a real treasure: it's the Kind of Blue band recorded playing standards one year earlier. Two years ago (ed. note: kind of hard to believe), I posted Cannonball's outrageous solo from "On Green Dolphin Street" from the same album, and at Miguel's urging, I've been working on "Straight, No Chaser" to work on my uptempo playing. 

All the classic late '50s Trane-isms are here in full effect: the palm key wails, the sequencing of ii-V patterns in surprising ways, and the unwavering faucet-spilling of notes that seems basically indestructible. I understood more why Miguel asked me to learn this particular solo after beginning to play it on the horn: keeping the steady flow of brisk but swinging eighth notes chorus after chorus is not just a matter of physical endurance, but also of mental orientation. To keep the sense of forward momentum, it's not just about playing forcefully, but more about focusing the intensity in the phrasing of lines that have their distinct moments of pushing/pulling. There are parts of the solo where Jimmy Cobb lays off a bit on his comping, but during those choruses Trane continues to plow forward as though nothing's changed, and soon enough Cobb gets back on the horse and rises back to Trane's level of intensity. Take a listen and a look:


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From my perspective, the Monk Competition this year came and went without incident. I had pity for the judges, though, who had to negotiate what seemed to me to be an especially memorable field of players. Although I knew a couple of the competitors personally, I have to give a special shout out to Adam O'Farrill, representing Brooklyn and also doing his thing with casual brilliance. I heard Adam's chordless quartet, Stranger Days, when they performed at the Lily Pad up in Cambridge over the weekend; they're over at The Jazz Gallery this Friday, so check them out if you haven't yet (this will be their last gig for the near future). I also spoke with Adam about what's been going on for Jazz Speaks, so check out the full interview here.

In other news, I've been itching to perform with Earprint again (another chordless that I realized was inspired by playing in that configuration with Adam at the end of the summer). We had a great first gig a couple weeks back and we're hoping to maybe set something up at the Lily Pad; more on that to come. I'm pleased to share that I'll be playing at ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn next month with Felipe Salles's Ugandan Suite band, so if you're in the area, come by and say hey. I've seen numerous shows there over the past couple years, so I'm looking forward to making some noise in that big cavern of a space. Felipe recently uploaded the full concert footage of our gig at UMass Amherst from September as well:

One more thing: in lieu of sleeping at a reasonable hour last night, I decided to upload a track from GOP's Jordan Hall concert in the spring. When I played it for a critique in Vijay Iyer's creative music class, he replied that its sonic profile reminded him of "Refuge" from Andrew Hill's Point of Departure. I didn't notice any particular resemblance, but what do you think?


  1. Great stuff. Both the tabs and the GOP track. Can't believe I'm the first to comment!
    /random huge music fan


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