Spirits of the Songs
Nature Boy mp3 sample clip
Nature Boy was a standard sung by Nat King Cole, but in my eyes the John Coltrane Quartet made it famous. On their 1965 album entitled The John Coltrane Quartet Plays, the band did an avant-garde interpretation of the song. My band takes heavily into account the Coltrane version and does a Third-Ear rock fusion based reinterpretation of the standard
At the time of the Quartet Plays recording, John Coltrane was considered the preeminent tenor saxophonist and his band was one of the most popular in modern jazz. I’d like to think that Trane learned much from his stint with Miles Davis, including how to put a band together successfully. Also, his time with Thelonious Monk was one of rapid study. Trane admits that he learned from Monk in every way. The piano is the perfect instrument to learn from since it is the constructor of harmony.
A lot of people couldn’t understand what Trane was playing with his Quartet in the mid 1960’s. It was very loud music- chaotic just like the 60’s. When his band played at the Village Vanguard in November of 1961, there were critics who gave his performance a negative write-up. Yet as time went by, the jazz establishment started to follow his lead.
When Coltrane had Archie Shepp and Pharaoh Sanders join him on selected performances and recordings, the music became even louder than before. People began to call it ‘energy music’. Yet during this late period of Coltrane career, the critics were ready to embrace the music. No one except Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman (Ayler wasn’t a big enough name at the time) were doing anything similar at the time.
Trane was simply ahead of his time. No one was close to matching what he was doing with his Quartet. Downbeat and other jazz media named him tenor saxophonist of the year and jazz musician of year. A Love Supreme was album of the year. And the John Coltrane Quartet Plays album was a remarkable follow up. The classics on that album are played in such a new fashion that they should be published as original compositions