By Willard Manus
Every jazz fan's cup has runneth over with Concord's release of INTERPLAY, a handsome five-CD set of the late John Coltrane's early recordings, circa 1956-1958. At the time, Coltrane was working as a sideman with Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk and fast earning a reputation as one of jazz's Young Turks; in fact, it would only be a few years before he was leading his own group, composing and playing the tunes that soon made him almost as famous and influential as his peer, Charlie Parker.
Coltrane, who died at forty in 1967, shows his prodigious gifts on INTERPLAY, which is culled from six LPs on which he collaborated with the likes of Kenny Burrell, Mal Waldron, Paul Quinichette, Pepper Adams, Hank Mobley and Zoot Sims, to name but a few. The albums, Dakar, Cattin', Tenor Conclave, Interplay For 2 Trumpets and 2 Tenors, Taylor's Wailers and Wheelin' and Dealin', originally produced by Bob Weinstock (except for Dakar by Teddy Charles), have been remastered by Joe Tarantino.
What a pleasure it is to hear Coltrane showing his range and artistry on these largely leaderless studio dates, playing in a variety of styles each time out: driving in straight-ahead fashion with his three tenor cohorts on Conclave, playing warm, lyrical blues with Waldron and Burrell on Interplay; be-bopping his head off with Quinichette and Frank Wess on Wheelin' and Dealin'. That's just for starters, because all 34 cuts on the Concord release showcase Coltrane's virtuousity, his passionate intensity and ever-bubbling creativity.
Because Coltrane was one of jazz's immortals, it's only fitting that his former home in Huntington, NY should be added to both the New York State and National Register of Historic Places. Coltrane, who lived there for a decade with his musician wife Alice, composed A Love Supreme, one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, at his Long Island domicile.