eMusic Review 0
Coltrane made plenty of avant-garde albums in the 1960s, but this isn't one of them; it's too genially melodic, open and airy for that. Here, Coltrane investigates the music of his friend the freebop pioneer Ornette Coleman, whose intuitive playing contrasted with his own deliberate, more methodical approach. Coltrane plays three Coleman tunes alongside the composer's key allies: cornetist Don Cherry, drummer Edward Blackwell, and bassist Charlie Haden (trading off with Percy Heath, who'd recorded with Coleman, too). In the process, Coltrane zeroes in on Coleman's happy bounce and love of earthy melody, as Cherry's raggedy bugling sets the informal tone. As in Coleman's band, the absence of piano gives the horns more leeway. "The Blessing" marks the debut of Trane's soprano saxophone in the studio. His solo is supple, sinewy, and tuneful, if topped by one of Cherry's most fetching, Harmon-muted improvisations. There's also a loosely spirited take on "Bemsha Swing" by Coltrane's old boss Thelonious Monk. In the end the saxophonist didn't bend his saxophone style so far in Coleman's direction, but no other Coltrane record sounds quite so jolly as this one.