I know, it feels like EVERYONE loves this album. But, in the words of Demi Lovato and so many other scholars and internet partakers….sorry not sorry. There was just so much to draw and learn from on this recording. It’s just a wonderful lineup of musicians playing over great compositions.
This album vibes. Hard. When I was at Berklee, I lived in the dorms at 150 Massachusetts Avenue, in a triple room….with two drummers……that were both very close minded…….on complete opposite sides of the spectrum when it came to music. One was a rock music oficionado, and the other a straight up jazz head. The only way I got them to sit down and listen together was for all of us to get coffee, and set aside the time to listen. Incidentally, I’ve seen some people running with that premise on Youtube etc.. For the record, I was doing that in 1991. #first
Guess the first recording I brought out for the coffee time session? Yup. Blue Train. They made it all the way through it, and the rock guy “didn’t hate it”. LOL. It was an easy session for me because I already loved this recording.
Why I love this recording:
John friggin Coltrane. This is prime Coltrane. He’s on his way to expressing himself more technically on the horn, as well as becoming more complex and adventurous harmonically. This recording has so much of the Trane-isms that define him and this period. The sound. Iconic. The glissandos up to the palm keys (sorry saxophone dorkery) of concert C,C#,D, D…which often lead back down to concert B or Bb. The complexity of articulation. He’s slurring, using staccato, along with ghost (implied) notes. He’s even a little dirty at times. It doesn’t even matter. It’s so musical. His time feel. One moment he’s behind the time, then he’s ahead of it. He bobs and weaves like crazy on this. He’s so expressive.
The phrasing and ideas. There are so many of his go to trademark phrases on this recording. It’s really a treasure trove of his style. He walks that line of obviously just playing what he hears and feels, to playing some things that are so advanced harmonically or rhythmically that they make you wonder if he worked it out head of time. Magical. He’s also using some harmonic substitutions and colors a little more than previous. I could go on and on really, but I don’t want to bore anyone.
For time purposes, I’m not going to go into each player in depth the way I did with Coltrane, but I will say this. One of the things that makes this recording so special to me, is the contrast in styles of the players. Lee Morgan spits fire hard bop lines and makes short work of some difficult material. Curtis Fuller is in contrast understated, melodic, and patient. I can’t say how much I appreciate this. Just a really wonderful contrasting voice.
The rhythm section is killing. Kenny Drew (piano), Paul Chambers (Bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums) are just special. Such great pocket.
The tunes and arrangements are interesting and beautiful. From the sick double time drums over the walking bass in “Blue Train”, the complex chord changes of Moment’s Notice, or the beauty of I’m old Fashioned. Solid from beginning to end.
My words don’t do it justice but all these things are why it’s one of my favorite recordings of all time.