on December 19, 2001
It is easy to see why 'Blue Train' is one of the best-selling and most loved jazz albums of all time. From the famous, if untypically intense, opening bars of the title track, Coltrane is dedicated to offering the purest pleasure, now laidback, now party-swinging, a far cry from the far-out experimentation of his later work. With Paul Chambers' bass and Philly Joe Jones' drums furiously fretting like slaves on a Roman galley, Coltranes' sax blows melody after honeyed melody, mostly upbeat, with 'Locomotion' indicating both the music's forward momentum and its sense of taking you on a journey; but also reflective and nostalgic, as in the tight but beautifully brooding 'I'm Old Fashioned'. I particularly love the wood-twanging bass solos on 'Moment's Notice' and 'Lazy Bird'.
This kind of music has been a lazy signifier of 'cool' in innumerable night-club scenes from films and TV shows, but Coltrane's quiet intelligence ensures this remains as fresh and fun as the day it was recorded. It may be asking too much for an album that puts a huge grin on your face to also burn your soul - for that you must look elsewhere.
on April 4, 2001
This is one of those albums that you can listen to through over and over again, all the way through and find new things everytime. I would place it up there with "Kind Of Blue" as one of the greatest jazz albums of all time. Even John Coltrane himself said that this was his favorite album he ever did. Each member takes solos that are jaw dropping. Of course Coltrane always did, Lee Morgan is incredibly imaginitive and smart, Curtis Fuller brings the trombone to the forefront with his solos, and Kenny Drew has lots of great moments. And the songs are incredible. "Blue Train" is a soulfull blues which has lots of great twists and turns down its 10 minute track... "Moment's Notice" is easily the best track Coltrane ever recorded of his own songs. The song is great by itself, but the solos are so good, I could sing all of them to you. And the song is 9 minutes!"Locomotion" reminds me of "Freddie Freeloader" from "Kind Of Blue". The tune is not much by itself, just a blues, but again the solos are crazy. Think of "Blue Train" speeding up. "I'm Old Fashioned" is an old show tune, and a lovely ballad. The ending with the cymbols and Paul Chambers bowing his bass is a very nice touch. And then there is "Lazy Bird" which is interesting. The meoldy is first stated by Lee Morgan alone. Usually the leader states the theme(and its a great theme)but Coltrane was always changing. Overall the best Coltrane album, and I've heard them all.
on December 31, 2003
Since anyone considering buying this probably knows what a great album it is, I am writing this simply to address the Hybrid SACD version of "Blue Train." This is one of those albums that I, personally, have spent the money to upgrade 3 times (it's THAT good).
While I can't speak for the recent RVG Series re-issue, I can say that this version sounds considerably better than the 1996 re-issue, "The Ultimate Blue Train" - bass is richer, drums crisper and over-all live feel of the recording is unprecendented. If are considering buying the RVG remaster, why not spend a few dollars more and get this Hybrid SACD since it plays in both Super Audio and regulars CD players. It is worth the investment.
on February 22, 2004
For me, the recordings Coltrane made between 1957 and 1959 were his greatest of his entire two decade career. Milestones, Kind of Blue and Blue Train all showcase Coltrane at his best. Unlike the two recordings he made with the Miles Davis Sextet, this music is more easy listening and for that reason offers the perfect introduction to John Coltrane. Coltrane plays with fire on a wonderfully exciting blues journey, Blue Train; his solo being perfectly complemented by an equally exciting solo by trumpeter Lee Morgan. This piece is one of the most famous of all Coltrane recordings and rightly so. The recording captures the freedom and ambience of a true jam session sound. My personal favourite, however, is the only cover track on the album, I'm Old Fashioned. Here, Coltrane showcases, what for me, is the highlight on any John Coltrane solo - his sound. Coltrane had one of the most sublime saxophone sounds in the history of jazz, for me, second only to Charlie Parker. On this track, Coltrane bares his sound for all to hear, free of the intense technical displays which tend to obscure it. Like many other Coltrane ballad interpretations, he plays the pure melody, with slight augmentations, but always with simplicity and honesty. John Coltrane truly had one the most individual and beautiful sounds of all time and it is truly exemplified on, this, his most accessible of all recordings.
on October 19, 2003
The rating, of course, is relative. Practically any recording by Coltrane before 1966 deserves five stars, but "Blue Trane's" singular importance, it strikes me, has been exaggerated. National Public Radio lists it in its "Basic Jazz Library" but omits "Giant Steps," the recording that changed the harmonic language of jazz.
"Blue Trane" is one of many Van Gelder-engineered sessions featuring Coltrane's tenor in the 1950's. Besides the Miles Quintet dates on Prestige there's sterling work by Trane on sessions with Kenny Burrell, Ray Draper, and Hank Mobley, to name a few.. "Blue Trane" is certainly an exemplary session, one moreover than inspires both Morgan and Fuller to reach new heights (though Fuller falters a bit on "Old Fashioned." One wishes J.J. Johnson, especially after his superb Blue Note session with Rollins, had recorded with Coltrane).
The problem with the session, compared to the Miles Quintet recordings, is simply that Trane has to give up solo space to an additional horn (if a sixth horn is to be added to the ensemble, it may as well be Cannonball Adderly's). Also, opinions will vary, but an undeniable sameness attaches itself to the familiar, up-close, "Van Gelder sound." Unless you're a Coltrane collector, the better bets from this period are the Columbia recordings, especially "Round Midnight" and "Kind of Blue." They capture superlative and stunning solos by Coltrane within the context of cutting-edge ensembles and three-dimensional sound.
on October 15, 2003
This album (CD) is without a doubt my favorite all-time Coltrane work. I can't seem to get enough. The greatest Coltrane song ever written - "Blue Train" - is on this CD. This song has been featured in several movies (e.g. 'Singles')and has a style and rhythm that is like no other jazz song in the history of jazz music. In fact, 'Blue Train' is the consummate jazz song.
What's even greater than the above is the fact that every remaining song on this CD follows suit. 'Moment's Notice' has a nice friendly flow to it, and Curtis Fuller has some great trombone work on this song. Other songs like 'Locomotion' -which gives a locomotion feel to it - and 'I'm Old Fashion'- a lazy, flowing romantic melodious tune which draws the listener into the music - are also great additions. In fact, there's not a bad song on this CD. I Love this CD.
If you are a big fan of Coltrane's, a big fan of jazz music or just someone who would like to get introduced to Coltrane - this is the best album to begin your journey through the land of Coltrane (where many other great CDs exist). I highly recommend this CD.
on October 15, 2003
This is not quite as startlingly 'original' a Coltrane recording, perhaps, as some of the later ones which many, myself included, see as probably ultimately more 'important' or 'innovative'. But is that the way we should look at things? Here, Coltrane is already masterly, and with a clear discipline that is often more inviting and accessible than his more difficult and yet brilliant music still to come. Moreover, he wrote some great themes for this album, not the least of them 'Blue Train' itself, which is both hauntingly blue and Trane indeed, and exciting in each of the versions presented on this CD. But ALL the tracks offered are good. The sound is superb. The other musicians are also very, very good, with Lee Morgan and Curtis Fuller excellent on trumpet and trombone, and a hard-driving but richly varied performance by the "rhythm" section. In some ways the thematic material is perhaps more revolutionary (listen for some things not unlike those subsequently found in 'Kind of Blue') than the solos, but those are nevertheless uniformly great and super-duper listening, sometimes more in a funky Horace Silver/Jazz Messengers mode. A good record to own!
on September 24, 2003
This was the first jazz album that I have ever bought and the first of 15 Coltrane albums. I am no expert when it comes to the techniques or even the jargon of jazz, but I can relay what my ears have heard: this is some of the greatest music I have ever heard!
This is the only *true* jazz album that Coltrane did for the legendary jazz label, Blue Note. The story goes like this: Coltrane was not signed to a label at the time (late 1956 to early 1957) and went to see legendary Blue Note producer, Alfred Lion, for some Sidney Bechet albums. They talked about a record deal but the guy who handled that had already left for the day. However, Lion gave Coltrane the albums and a little advance and Coltrane said that he would return in a couple of days. But he never did and later signed with the Prestige label (the first of 3 labels that Coltrane recorded for as a main performer); he remembered later the talk with Lion and insisted that he cut one album for Blue Note, thus "Blue Train". Whether that is the way it really happened is debateable, but it makes for a good story!
Getting to the music: the personnel is outstanding as it is headed by Coltrane on tenor sax, the brilliant Lee Morgan on trumpet, the sublime Curtis Fuller on trombone, pianist Kenny Drew, and the Miles Davis rhythm section (who Coltrane was a part of at that time)of Paul Chambers on bass (who I think is the greatest jazz bassist of all-time) and Philly Joe Jones on drums. The first 2 numbers, "Blue Train" and "Moment's Notice" have become jazz standards and the version of the old standard, "I'm Old Fashioned" is outstanding. The rest of the album is excellent and there are even 2 bonus tracks in alternate versions of "Blue Train" and "Lazy Bird". If you have a MacIntosh Computer, you can even see an interview of Coltrane from this CD!
There are several versions of "Blue Train" out there including a recent release of a Rudy Van Gelder series. Don't waste your money on that version or any others; this is the version of "Blue Train" to buy. Also, if you are afraid that you have to be a Coltrane diehard or a free jazz fan, don't. This album is an excellent introduction to not only a great artist who had a tragic short career, yet brilliant one as well as jazz in general.
on August 10, 2003
If you want the Blue Train album, and you have a computer available, it is worth it to get "Ultimate" and spend 30-40 minutes watching and listening to the enhancements. There is a video clip of Trane playing "So What" with Miles Davis (from a black and white TV special around 1959) and a wonderful segment on Rudy Van Gelder. He's the engineer par excellance who was first an optometrist. He began recording jazz artists almost accidentally in the living room of his parents' house in Hackensack, NJ. That success led to getting a separate studio built in nearby Englewood Cliffs and to the abandoning of RVG's day job with eye exams. There are also interviews with six or seven men who played with Coltrane on various projects, and some audio clips from '50's albums in which Trane was not the leader. You can even listen to the music on this CD through your computer speakers if you wish. Read six or seven of the other reviews which describe the tunes and the playing in detail, then buy this. Along with "Kind of Blue" and a handful of other classic recordings, "Blue Train" is the cream of '50's jazz. Seeing and hearing the added features via computer, even just once, will help you understand why.
on August 7, 2003
Wait a minute, I already own "The Ultimate Blue Train" so what is this CD supposed to be, Super-Ultimate?! Clearly with this reissue of John Coltrane's classic "Blue Train," the folks at Blue Note have returned to the mindset they had during the deletion-happy, series-slashing days of the late 1980s (when they reportedly deleted the majority of that year's jazz releases to make way for a then new Garth Brooks album). I am delighted that Rudy Van Gelder has been able to remaster one of the greatest sessions that he ever recorded, but that fact alone does not warrant another reissue. "The Ultimate Blue Train" was worth buying to replace the original CD -- it had remastered sound, two bonus tracks, and a multi-media component featuring rare photographs and more. It was what CDs were supposed to be! Yet another CD reissue of the same material that we all are supposed to buy again, that furthermore confuses potential new jazz buyers, is not! The only reason I give this CD four stars and not less is because this album contains some of the greatest jazz ever made. I love John Coltrane, but I hate manipulative marketing.