John Coltrane - Ascension
Jan 12, 2023
Released in February 1966 Ascension is the 11th record by John Coltrane under Impulse! Records. Coltrane wanted to move away from the quartet format of his previous albums and going into a more looser free jazz style. Ascension is known to be the record that put John Coltrane into the avant-garde. Coltrane was influenced by his friend saxophonist / singer / composer Albert Tyler. Also, Coltrane had become sort of a father figure for a lot of younger avant-garde players, in which, a lot of them would appear on Ascension. Coltrane during the 60's was considered a god amongst men who drew in avant-garde fans and musicians in general.

The featured musicians on the record were either very well known or practically unkown and as previously stated, Coltrane was a father figure to them. Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and bassist Art David, both were well known by this point having shown up on Coltrane's Africa/Bass, Ole Coltrane, and The John Coltrane Quartet Plays. Saxophonist Archie Shepp was also featured; after Ascension, Coltrane would recommend poducer Bob Thiele to Shepp and he would release a ton of albums under Impulse! Shepp and Art Davis also appeared on the Acknowledgement section of Coltrane's A Love Supreme, which would come out 30 years after the original recording. Archie Shepp also introduced saxoponist Marion Brown to Coltrane. Trumpeter Dewey Jackson had helped with Coltrane's group before even asking to participate in recording Ascension. Pharoah Sanders had played with Marion Brown and Sun Ra (Who Coltrane had admired) and was invited to sit with Coltrane's group after hearing his debut album at the Village Gate and Sanders was invited to play for Coltrane's band in 1965 and would go on to record many of Coltrane's late records. Drummer Rashied Ali and Saxophonist Frank Wright were also invited to the recording of Ascension but they passed up the opportunity (idk why the hell they did that). Archie Shepp wanted no "stars" on the record so, he took no more solo time than anybody else.

Anyways, John Coltrane's Ascension is an ultimate piece of artwork that, going into the listening, I expected nothing less of Coltrane. A lot of of his previous works are so iconic and wonderful, that by now it has been assumed that this record would be good. I love the inclusion of all of the artists on this record, having listened to The Jazz Composer's Orchestra which had I believe 60+ features, I tend to really like features. I also like how Coltrane ditches the formulaic quartet formula because it tends to lead to much more creativity, and it definitely showed here. No feature on this record sticks out like a sore thumb, rather, they all blend together so well it equates in a great experience. I'll be sure to listen to Part 2 soon, I'm sure it's just as good as Part 1 was.

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