Once upon a time, musical obsessives like myself made lists of actual albums: best, worst, overlooked, overrated, essential, obscure, etc. These days, however — in the age of the iPod and the MP3 — it seems to be all about tracks.
Normally I would be writing about (and, preferably, listening to) my favorite John Coltrane albums in honor of his 80th birthday today.
But... in the spirit of the times, I will instead attempt to compile my personal top ten Trane tracks — what the kids today might refer to as a "playlist."
No, you won't see anything from A Love Supreme here — which really shouldn't be listened to piecemeal. Albums that consist of only one track (Om, Ascension, etc.) are excluded as well (and probably wouldn't be in my top ten anyway...) And there's a definite bias toward the Impulse! "classic quartet" years... simply because that's the stuff that really blows my mind. If you disagree with my choices... well, that's what the comments are for. Use 'em!
So... put this in your iPod and smoke it, kids!
My Favorite Things (live in Berlin, 11/2/1963) [Live Trane: The European Tours]
The original Atlantic recording swings so sweetly, and the Village Vanguard... Again version is a cathartic meltdown, but the greatest "My Favorite Things" I've ever heard is on disc 6 of this amazing box set (and also on the double-CD Afro-Blue Impressions.) A churning improvisational journey of epic proportions that repeatedly scales ecstatic heights, this is a truly awe-inspiring experience.
After The Rain [Dear Old Stockholm]
A deceptively simple tune that evokes serenity, eternity, and timeless beauty. Perfection.
In A Sentimental Mood [Duke Ellington & John Coltrane]
This perhaps unlikely collaboration between Ellington and Coltrane casts a unique spell, transforming Duke's familiar standard into something elusive and mysterious.