Jazz 100
John Coltrane
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Blue Train
John Coltrane
1957 [Blue Note]


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A legendary record made on the basis of a one-off handshake deal between Coltrane and Blue Note supremo Alfred Lion. This was Trane's personal favourite amongst all the records he made and it remains a popular pick. The riveting hard bop session sees the celebrated backing band in top form - particularly Lee Morgan on trumpet.





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At Carnegie Hall
Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane
1957 [Blue Note]


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Sax supremo John Coltrane's short stint with the Thelonious Monk Quartet was frustratingly under-recorded. These 1957 Voice of America radio tapes were discovered during a routine digital transfer of Library of Congress recordings. Pristine sound quality combined with the moment in time when the pair finally clicked is a joy to behold.





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Quintet in Chicago
Cannonball Adderley with John Coltrane
1959 [EmArcy]


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Made with the 1959 Miles Davis backing band, this record features Adderley's free-spirited alto in some great interplay with Trane's tenor. Despite the 1959 recording date, there are no free jazz stylings evident here - with blues and ballads the order of the day. Well played and a favourite with those who like their Coltrane straight.





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Giant Steps
John Coltrane
1959 [Atlantic]


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The album's title says it all. While still with Miles Davis' group, Trane managed to push bop to the limits and beyond. His all-original compositions here are built around solos, which was a deconstruction of the modal jazz he was playing with Davis at the time. Most won't notice too much, as it all sounds conventionally pleasing. Essential.





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My Favorite Things
John Coltrane
1960 [Atlantic]


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Trane's first full-length album featuring his classic quartet - McCoy Tyner on piano, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Steve Davis. Ostensibly a set of standards, the title track had enough angular diversions to hint at things to come and would remain the song most associated with Coltrane over the rest of his career. A pivotal record.





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A Love Supreme
John Coltrane
1964 [Impulse!]


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After being sacked from Miles Davis' band in 1957 because of his heroin addiction, Trane began his very personal journey to redemption. While nowhere near as 'free' as later efforts, A Love Supreme is the crowning achievement of Coltrane's classic 1960s quartet with drummer Elvin Jones, pianist McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison on bass.





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Ascension
John Coltrane
1965 [Impulse!]


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Coltrane well and truly crossed into free jazz territory with this record, an extended 40-minute improvisation that enshrined his reputation with the avant-garde community. Along with his regular rhythm section, also on board are Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp and Freddie Hubbard. Steer clear if the fringes aren't your scene.





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Olé Coltrane
John Coltrane
1961 [Atlantic]


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Made when Coltrane was transitioning to his new record label, Olé seizes on African rhythms and the sounds of Spain to round off the quartet of albums he made for Atlantic records. In addition to regular cohorts McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard and Eric Dolphy make some significant contributions to the album.


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