One of the most positive upshots of the current world wide vinyl revival is the rediscovery of some truly classic albums by a younger generation. Ironically the CD versions have been available for many years, but it’s the tactile vinyl reissue that takes the listener back to that exciting time when the music was first created.
Right up there with some of the top selling albums of the current renaissance is John Coltrane’s classic 1958 Blue Note release, Blue Train. Not only does it feature one of the most engaging Blue Note covers of all time, with Coltrane at his contemplative best, but the title track is a bona fide jazz masterpiece.
I first discovered it many decades ago on the old vinyl juke box at the Piccolo Bar in Kings Cross. The nine minute long track was split onto two sides of a 45RPM disc and with years of continual play the joke was that it began playing both sides at once. My regular evening ritual was to order a plate of Vittorio’s legendary lentil soup and punch in Trane on the jukebox. The two became almost synonymous and today, even when I open a can of mass produced lentil soup, I can hear Blue Train in the back of my head.
Whilst Blue Train remains my personal favourite there are other Coltrane fans who would quickly nominate Giant Steps or A Love Supreme as their all time fave. I once shared an apartment with a jazz fan who was obsessed with Coltrane’s frenetic 1966 album Live In Japan – a milestone in his exploration of the avant garde along with wife Alice and Pharoah Sanders. He would begin every Sunday morning by blasting the album (a vinyl copy of course) at a lease breaking volume reaching a crescendo during the extended Rashied Ali drum solo.
Some years ago I had the unique experience of visiting the Saint Coltrane Church in San Francisco, a storefront ministry that promotes spirituality, meditation and outreach to the poor through the music of John Coltrane. The Church, which has recently relocated to a new address from its original Fillmore location, features a regular jazz mass with live music and a belief that “God is never without a witness – with St. John Coltrane as that witness for this time and this age.” Whether you hold traditional religious beliefs or not the Church is both a welcoming and uplifting experience that endorses both the musical artistry and universal message of Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.
With the resurgence of interest in Coltrane’s recording legacy it’s great to see Groovescooter and the MCA screening John Scheinfeld’s much acclaimed doco Chasing Trane for the the Antenna International Documentary Film Festival. Produced with the full co-operation of the Coltrane family and narrated by Denzel Washington, it’s a beautifully researched biography of one of the titans of the music scene – an artist who died all too young at the age of 40 but left an incredible legacy.
Chasing Trane screens at the MCA on Wednesday October 11 (7pm) and Sunday October 15 (1pm) with bookings essential. Tickets: www.antennafestival.org