John Coltrane had yet to move into his modal post-bop phase in 1958 when he recorded a session for Prestige Records on July 11 with trumpeter/flügelhornist Wilbur Harden, pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb, the results of which were issued in 1962 as Standard Coltrane. His groundbreaking modal work with Miles Davis on Kind of Blue was still a few months into the future, which makes this set more historical than vital or transitional, although it's pleasant enough, featuring Coltrane on several standards, including a ten-plus-minute version of "Invitation." Other Coltrane material from this 1958 Prestige era ended up on the albums Stardust (1963) and Bahia (1965), and all of it, including these four tracks, has been collected on The Stardust Session from Prestige Records, which is probably the way to go.
Review by Alex Henderson
In 1958, John Coltrane had yet to take the modal post-bop plunge. He was still a hard bopper, although his "sheets of sound" solos were certainly among the most interesting, creative, and distinctive that bop had to offer in the late '50s. Stardust contains some highlights of two bop-oriented Coltrane dates from 1958: one is a July 11 session with trumpeter/flugelhornist Wilbur Harden, pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb, the other is a December 26 session with Garland, Chambers, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, and drummer Art Taylor. At both sessions, Coltrane's playing is quite engaging. He is a lyrical, expressive ballad player on "Then I'll Be Tired of You," "Stardust," and "Time After Time," but he swings fast and aggressively on "Love Thy Neighbor" (the only track on this 39-minute program that isn't a ballad). And at both sessions, Coltrane is well served by Garland's piano and Chambers' bass. When Coltrane was playing alongside those jazzmen in Miles Davis' 1955-1957 quintet, he enjoyed a strong rapport with both of them -- and that rapport wasn't any less strong in 1958. It is no coincidence that Prestige's A&R department united Coltrane with Garland and Chambers so often; Prestige knew how compatible all of them were. Although not quite essential, Stardust paints a consistently attractive picture of Coltrane's 1958 output. [When Fantasy reissued Stardust on CD for its Original Jazz Classics (OJC) series in 1997, the July 11 session had long been available in its entirety (except for alternate takes) on a disc titled The Stardust Session; however, performances of "Then I'll Be Tired of You" and "Time After Time" (both from the December 26 session) had only been available on CD as part of the 16-CD box set The Complete Prestige Recordings.]