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New material from a jazz artist of John Coltrane's stature is a big deal coming fifty-one years following his horribly premature death at age 40. Last year's Both Directions at Once chronicled the saxophonist and his famous and most longstanding quartet working their way from the harmonic virtuosity of Giant Steps towards the modal droning of Crescent and A Love Supreme. It was a release that did not disappoint, offering rare glimpses into Coltrane's development as a player that went far beyond some alternate takes or warmed over session leftovers.
Now Impulse! records will release Blue World, a recording of the quartet performing new versions of previously recorded tracks that were done for a French Canadian new wave film. The film's director, Gilles Groulx, enjoyed jazz and was particularly a fan of Coltrane's music. He asked the saxophonist to provide the film's soundtrack, and the quartet recorded Blue World's 37 minute session between Crescent and A Love Supreme. The tracks are all versions of previously recorded work due to contractual issues, but they are full-throated performances of songs one might have heard the group play live at the time.
The album will include two takes of Coltrane's classic ballad "Naima," three versions of "Village Blues" and one each of "Traneing In," "Like Sonny," and "Blue World."
Though Blue World is touted as a 'lost album' of Coltrane's, it wasn't so much lost as hiding in plain sight. The movie that Groulx made, Le Chat dans le Sac (The cat in the bag), is readily available for viewing, but in the end Groulx only used around 10 minutes of Coltrane's music. The sessions weren't noted in the studio log and so the existence of these tracks was glossed over.
It was unusual for Coltrane to revisit already-recorded tracks in the studio. In his liner notes, Coltrane authority Ashley Kahn writes that the work on Blue World offers listeners " the chance to compare these versions with previous perspectives, revealing both Coltrane's personal progress and the interactive consistency and sonic details the Classic Quartet had firmly established as their collective signature by 1964."
What makes Blue World feel like a real Coltrane release as opposed to something cobbled together by a record label or producer looking to 'create' a release is the fact that the material was all recorded at the same time and hasn't been submitted to heavy duty editing or other manipulation.
Since the 1980s jazz music has been a genre whose value rests largely on reissues and new discoveries of music by acknowledged giants of the pantheon. As in rock music, the work that is discovered is of varying value and differs in whether it was or wasn't intended to be released.
Coltrane's catalog has been well served by Impulse! and other labels, by his estate, and by writers like Kahn. Because there is so much of recorded work available by Coltrane, the biggest question that listeners will ask isn't whether this is a worthwhile listening experience (it is), but whether they are interested in hearing it.
Blue World offers a charming footnote to the work heard on Both Directions at Once and gives fans another opportunity to experience this amazingly fertile period of creativity in the brief life of one of music's most revered artists.
Coltrane at NDIM
Roxy Music is Still Blowing Our Minds
Guicci Memoire d'une Odeur, available at Macys, is running a fifteen second spot featuring the Roxy Music song "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" from the band's second album For Your Pleasure. The spot features Harry Styles and Cheikh Tall romping in what appears to be a variety of European locations. Of course the song is famously a love song to a blow-up sex doll, but the campaign's accompanying copy "Harry Styles and his free-spirited family let go of all inhibitions as they dance, sing and enjoy each others company. Gucci's universal fragrance Mémoire d'une Odeur is said to embody this lifestyle and was made for those who go against the status quo" confirms that the song's decadent tone is what they were seeking. Ferry's voice is heard at the spot's opening, 'You blow my mind" followed by 10 or so seconds of Phil Manzenara's heavy, psychedelic guitar solo.
The spot was produced by Alessandro Michele, who also did Gucci's 'Forever Guilty' spot featuring Jared Leto and Lana Del Rey in a 1960s glamour dream accompanied by Link Wray's "The Swag."
Roxy Music, in its original incarnation, was heavily influenced by Richard Hamilton, father of pop art. Hamilton was Bryan Ferry's professor for a year in 1964 at Newcastle University. Ferry studied fine art at Newcastle and fell heavily under Hamilton's spell, so much so that the artist used to joke that Ferry was his 'greatest creation.'
Hamilton's most famous artwork, the collage Just What Is It About Today’s Homes That Makes Them So Different, So Appealing?, used the visual language of modern advertising to emphasize the emptiness and lack of soulfulness of consumerist culture, even while showing how irresistible it was. The work unquestionably influenced Roxy Music and Ferry, who takes it further, suggesting that it creates not only ennui and emptiness but eventually perversion and addiction.
For Your Pleasure is the edgiest and least stylized of the band's records, but "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" has proven to be the record's most endearing statement and well ahead of its time.
In Every Dream Home (A Nightmare)
From Joe Jackson’s third album Beat Crazy, comes this paranoid look at the neighbors with a reggae beat. It’s title is similar to In Every Dream Home a Heartache, though it’s on a completely different topic. Seems pretty current in today’s social media-driven world, though.
I’m an immense fan of the Joe Jackson Band’s first three albums and I’ve always felt that Beat Crazy never gets the respect it should for some reason, and someday I’m going to write about that.
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Mind your step as you exit, and have a wonderful day full of music. Thanks for listening.