John Coltrane, Lush Life (Remastered)
As classic as it gets.
John Coltrane established himself as a solo artist with a prolific series of recordings in 1957 and '58, yet the sessions comprising Lush Life still stand out amid this creative torrent for a couple of reasons. Because Red Garland failed to show up at the studio, the first three tracks put Trane in the relatively rare context of a piano-less trio, and bassist Earl May's judicious style provides further elbow room for the lyrical gushes of sax on the love songs and the blues — soulful yet quicksilver phrases demarcated by rhythmic eddies and reveries.
But most of all this collection is renowned for Coltrane's ability (abetted by a full quintet here) to vividly convey both the grandeur and the intimacy of “Lush Life,” during his 14-minute treatment of Billy Strayhorn's classic composition. His emotional discernment and restraint enhance the poignant turns-of-phrase, an acute sensibility perhaps indebted to his own struggles with drug addiction at the time. But “Lush Life” is hardly a solo triumph: both arco and pizzicato, this is one of bassist's Paul Chambers'more noteworthy accompaniments, and Garland's lengthy piano solo nourished his reputation as a master of silky ballads. The disc closes with the nascent, relatively pacific, hard bop of “I Hear a Rhapsody.”