John Coltrane - The Olatunji Concert: The Last Live Recording
Aug 24, 2022
93
Hell has an anthem, I just learned. Not implying that John Coltrane is in hell or anything, but considering his silent grip with mortality he was facing at the time of this recording, it might as well have been Hell. The River Styx has two things on the menu. One is an original composition of his, a 28 minute free jazz saga that clutters the entire soundscape. Accidental recording issues lead to this performance having some of the most distorted, boomy, and downright piercing instrument audio, and give these winding solos and arpeggios a death rattle feel. Saxophones scream over piano and bass, often interrupted by the machine-gun drumming, clipping the microphones at every blam. The second and final course is My Favorite Things, lengthened to 34 minutes, and completely abandoning the original heart of the composition, and instead using it as a final cheer. His most notable work, the song is one of his many namesakes, and it seems to me that this rambled and painful arrangement just serves as a canvas for Coltrane and co. to give it all they have. Everything seems to be clinging on for dear life in this album. I feel he knew that this would be his last live recording. So he decided to give them everything. There's fewer jazz records that compare to the arguments these horns had, and they'll haunt our music for eternity.
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