Kenny Burrell and John Coltrane: Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane

MAY 1963 (49 YEARS AGO)
Kenny Burrell and John Coltrane: Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4.5/5
# Allmusic 4/5 stars
Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane is an album by Kenny Burrell and John Coltrane, originally released on the New Jazz label as NJ 8276 in 1963, then reissued in 1967 on Prestige as PRLP 7532, with a different cover and retitled The Kenny Burrell Quintet With John Coltrane.
During his final months with Miles Davis’ group, John Coltrane participated in a number of recording sessions for Prestige independently of Davis. This album is but one such recording. In 1958, when this recording was made, Coltrane may have been at his creative peak. During this period, his work began to transcend “bebop” and “cool,” anticipating even more modern developments in jazz-changes that would affect a whole generation of musicians.
On Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane, we hear the two jazz masters creating time-honored renditions of tunes such as “Why Was I Born,” a duet that highlights the musicians’ ability to not only savor each note, but to take a rather plaintive composition and develop it organically. Burrell, Coltrane, and company swing “Freight Trane” with great authority, thanks to the drumming acumen of Jimmy Cobb. On this tune, Coltrane uses a variety of sudden flourishes and lyrical lines, while Burrell comps chords in simpatico. Most importantly, this album represents the one-time chemistry of Burrell and Coltrane.
SESSION
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey on March 7, 1958.
PERSONNEL
Kenny Burrell — guitar
John Coltrane — tenor saxophone
Tommy Flanagan — piano
Paul Chambers — bass
Jimmy Cobb — drums
REVIEW
~ Lindsay Planer, allmusic
For his final Prestige-related session as a sideman, John Coltrane (tenor sax) and Kenny Burrell (guitar) are supported by an all-star cast of Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums), and Tommy Flanagan (piano). This short but sweet gathering cut their teeth on two Flanagancompositions, another two lifted from the Great American Songbook, and a Kenny Burrell original. Flanagan’s tunes open and close the album, with the spirited “Freight Trane” getting the platter underway. While not one of Coltrane’s most assured performances, he chases the groove right into the hands of Burrell. The guitarist spins sonic gold and seems to inspire similar contributions from Chambers’ bowed bass and Coltrane alike. Especially as the participants pass fours (read: four bars) between them at the song’s conclusion. The Gus Kahn/Ted Fio Rito standard “I Never Knew” frolics beneath Burrell’s nimble fretwork. Once he passes the reigns to Coltrane, the differences in their styles are more readily apparent, with Burrell organically emerging while Coltrane sounds comparatively farther out structurally. Much of the same can likewise be associated to Burrell’s own “Lyresto,” with the two co-leads gracefully trading and incorporating spontaneous ideas. While not as pronounced, the disparity in the way the performance is approached is a study in unifying and complementary contrasts. The delicate “Why Was I Born” is one for the ages as Burrell and Coltrane are captured in a once-in-a-lifetime duet. Together they weave an uncanny and revealing sonic tapestry that captures a pure and focused intimacy. This, thanks in part to the complete restraint of the ensemble, who take the proverbial “pause for the cause” and sit out. What remains is the best argument for the meeting of these two jazz giants. The performance can likewise be located on the various-artists Original Jazz Classics: The Prestige Sampler (1988) and Playboy Jazz After Dark (2002) and is worth checking out, regardless of where one might find it. In many ways the showpiece of the project is Flanagan’s nearly quarter-hour “Big Paul.” The pianist’s lengthy intro establishes a laid-back bop-centric melody with his trademark stylish keyboards perfectly balancing Chambers and Cobb’s rock-solid timekeeping. Coltrane’s restraint is palpable as he traverses and examines his options with insightful double-time flurries that assert themselves then retreat into the larger extent of his solo. Those interested in charting the saxophonist’s progression should make specific note of his work here.
TRACKS:
“Freight Trane” (Tommy Flanagan) — 7:18
“I Never Knew” (Ted Fio Rito, Gus Kahn) — 7:04
“Lyresto” (Kenny Burrell) — 5:41
“Why Was I Born?” (Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) — 3:12
“Big Paul” (Tommy Flanagan) — 14:05

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Filed under 1958, 1963, Kenny Burrell and John Coltrane

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