Trane with Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Rashied Ali, Sonny Johnson & Percussion
In High-Fidelity Audio Taken From Recently Discovered Tapes To Be Released September 23, 2014, Coltrane’s 88th Birthday via Impulse!/Resonance Records
Resonance Records and UME are proud to present Offering: Live At Temple University, documenting a legendary concert by John Coltrane at Temple University in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 11, 1966, six weeks after his fortieth birthday and nine months before his untimely death.
Offering, available in both 2-CD and 2-LP vinyl sets on September 23, 2014, is the first officially sanctioned release of an undiscovered complete Coltrane performance since 2005, when Impulse! Records put out the 1965 radio broadcasts comprising One Down, One Up: Live At the Half Note and Blue Note Records issued Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane At Carnegie Hall, from 1957. It captures Coltrane in exemplary form, navigating the language he had developed during the last phase of his musical path with passion and pellucid logic.
Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, son of John and Alice Coltrane, was instrumental in the assembling of this historical release, celebrating a performance thought to be evidence of his father’s frustration with the limitations of his instrument. To Ravi, the recording is instead proof of his enduring mastery. “For me, the Temple recording is an affirmation that no, he didn’t exhaust the saxophone. The saxophone was just a tool—one over which he had a master’s command. His voice was an extension of the saxophone, as the saxophone was an extension of his voice. When you hear that transition on ‘Leo,’ it’s totally seamless in energy, vibe and intention.”
Offering is, as noted by the set’s co-producer Ashley Kahn in the package’s accompanying liner notes, “a ninety-minute session of sustained intensity: experimental, frenzied at times, and deeply spiritual.” Operating at equivalent levels of invention and energy are three members of his working quintet of one year’s standing—his wife, Alice Coltrane, on piano; Pharoah Sanders on reeds and flute; and Rashied Ali on drums—that, earlier in 1966, made the luminous Live At The Village Vanguard Again and the majestic, posthumously issued Concert In Japan. Bassist Sonny Johnson substitutes for Jimmy Garrison, and two guest saxophone players and four percussionists rise to the occasion, contributing to the flow.
For Offering, Resonance upholds the high production standards that it established on such critically acclaimed prior releases as Wes Montgomery’sEchoes of Indiana Avenue and Bill Evans’s Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of The Village Gate.
Until now, the proceedings from the 1966 concert were available only in fragmentary form and with inferior sound. On Offering, Resonance achieves the highest possible audio quality, using direct transfers of original master reels from a location recording by Temple’s WRTI-FM, remastered at 96kHz/24 bit, that were tracked down by Coltrane scholar Yasuhiro Fujioka. In addition, the album is presented in a deluxe format 2-CD digi- pak as well as a gatefold 2-LP edition. Both incorporate a look that is contiguous with the graphic identity of Impulse! Records, Coltrane’s exclusive label from 1961 until the end of his life.
The 24-page booklet included with the CD set features extensive liner notes by Kahn, the author of A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album and The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records, who draws on perceptive interviews with witnesses of and participants in the event to render a vivid portrayal of the milieu. Adding texture to the story are five contemporaneous, rarely seen photographs by jazz scholar Frank Kofsky, author of John Coltrane and the Jazz Revolution of the 1960s.
The 2-LP edition is mastered for vinyl by state-of-the-art engineer Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at 33-1/3 rpm by audiophile avatars R.T.I. (Record Technology Inc.).
Resonance Records, which is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit foundation, will contribute a portion from every CD or LP sale to the John Coltrane Home, an organization devoted to the preservation of Coltrane’s former home in Dix Hills, New York.
“We couldn’t have done this without Ravi Coltrane and the John Coltrane estate, as well as Coltrane estate representative Peter Shukat. Nor could this have happened without the support of Resonance’s President, George Klabin, who, without batting an eye, generously funded the project out of his own pocket. We’re grateful for the opportunity and are thrilled to present such a historic release together,” says Zev Feldman, EVP, Resonance Records.
Offering is emblematic of the efflorescent energies and radical ideas that Coltrane himself had much to do with bringing forth during the seven years after 1960, when he left the employ of Miles Davis to pursue his vision as a leader. There are phantasmagoric versions of Coltrane’s 1960 hits “Naima” and “My Favorite Things,” a transformational reworking of the 1964 ballad “Crescent,” a spirit-raising rendering of “Leo,” which he had recorded on several previous occasions during 1966, and the hymnal “Offering,” which he would record on a February 15, 1967 studio session that Impulse! would release during the ‘90s as Spiritual Offering.
Coltrane is in complete control of his vocabulary and narrative, and so is the band. Kahn observes that Coltrane distills an “unusual array of influences and ideas…intuitively or consciously. Exultant, extended solos that fed off the roof-raising energy of black gospel. Lengthy, suite-like structures that called to mind classical forms. Modal pieces that, like ragas of Indian tradition, created veritable symphonies from the few notes of a basic scale. Simple, nursery-like themes that flowed through his melodies and improvisations that, like the music of the minimalists, were built from small note groupings… Yet, the attention to infrastructure does not hamper the seductive flow or spiritual feel of his music.”
In the audience were the late tenor saxophone giant Michael Brecker, then 18, and the eminent jazz writer Francis Davis, both of whom describe to Kahn how the experience forever transformed their respective sensibilities. On three separate occasions, the energy level spurs the leader into song, an area of self-expression that Coltrane had previously not explored in public performance. In conjunction with the musical intensity on display throughout, this expression of Coltrane’s devotion to Eastern philosophy and a Universalist approach to spirituality imparts to the session a quality of apotheosis, of powerful cultural streams converging in a moment.
The immense life-force that animates the proceedings on this November 1966 evening in north Philadelphia, ten blocks from the home that Coltrane had purchased 17 years before, belies the declining state of Coltrane’s health. It is still difficult to grasp—and to accept— that he was firmly in the grip of the liver cancer that would still his voice on July 17, 1967. As Kahn states, “Coltrane was pointing the way forward for generations of players to come, pushing the music to exhilarating, spiritual heights that caught most by surprise. In 1966, that wasn’t what jazz performances were about—not yet.”