John Coltrane: Blue World review – A gift to the world

Fri, Sep 27, 2019, 05:15


Blue World

John Coltrane



It was certainly the unprecedented success of last year’s lost Coltrane album that convinced the Impulse label to keep digging. Both Directions at Once gave the great saxophonist his highest-ever chart position amid feverish media coverage (guilty) and the sense that a new generation was discovering the boundless joy of Coltrane’s sound world.

Blue World is not really a lost album but a collection of tunes Coltrane gave to Quebec film-maker Gilles Groulx to use as a soundtrack for his improvisatory film Le Chat dans le Sac.

Recorded in June 1964 – just six months before A Love Supreme, in the same studio with the same personnel – it was a selection of tunes, apparently chosen by Groulx, that the saxophonist’s peerless quartet had recorded before, including two takes of the numinous Naima and three of Village Blues.

As with all the current rash of unreleased material from the giants of jazz, there is always the thorny question of the artists’ intention. Coltrane could have released this material at the time and didn’t bother.

But even if Blue World never really shifts out of second gear, previously unheard music from perhaps the greatest band of the post-bebop era (only Miles Davis’s 1960s quintet comes close) is a gift to the world and will be gratefully received by completists and neophytes alike.