John Coltrane - Ascension
Feb 16, 2021 (updated Aug 8, 2021)
100
Edit: Think I've had enough time with this to give it a 10

MWE - Day 16 - 16/02/2021

I recall my first introduction to Coltrane's music pretty well at this point, I was on my lunch break at work a couple of years ago now, and I decided to throw on Meditations due to a few recommendations that I'd had. And my god what an experience it was. The chaotic, noisy and often unpredictable nature of the record, and the way that John played his Sax like an absolute madman kept me coming back to the album a few times over the years. Well and truly one of the most one of a kind Jazz albums, where the lack of words doesn't take away from the vivid storytelling the album conjured. The other Coltrane records I've listened to haven't quite lived up to the experience that Meditations gave me, however it's not to say I've found nothing of value since then (Summertime and the title track to Giant Steps are fantastic examples). Though truth be told I've been eager to find that same feeling of catharsis and enlightenment that Meditations so thoroughly gave me. So the question is, did Ascension live up to those expectations?

Coming after a series of acclaimed and celebrated albums in the mid-60's, Coltrane pushed his sound and ideas further than ever before on Ascension, by firmly placing his foot in the field of the avant-garde and free jazz movement at the time. By abandoning all previous sense of melody and structure, Ascension is essentially a 40 minute unrehearsed piece of chaos. Manic bursts of Sax jutting out everywhere, pianos and percussion sliding in and out of nowhere, some semblance of bass in the background, it's just everything that makes free jazz so appealing to me. It truly is a no-holes barred kind of experience, and one that's definitely an acquired taste. Whereas the later recorded Meditations seems to alternate between throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you, and the occasional pools of serenity and calm to break things up, this album leaves no room for breathing whatsoever. It's relentless in its chaos, and even the brief moments where things at first appear to somewhat calm down, don't last long. The title truly is apt, as the consistency of this project is an out of body experience.

I really don't have much more to say about this project, as the words lose all meaning when listening to such a beast. I cannot recommend this enough.

Standout: Ascension
Favs: n/a
Least fav: n/a

2 Comments
1y
You are totally right to say that this is one of the best Jazz albums of all time, the feeling of happiness when listening to this masterpiece is almost unbeatable!
Excellent review my friend! And you hold your challenge perfectly!
1y
@DoubleZ it's rare for me to find an album that blows me away to the extend that this album did, it's just so astounding a listen. Thank you for always being so kind and supportive, I appreciate it very much <3
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More Reviews by Houdanny
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