Impressions (John Coltrane album)

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Studio album by John Coltrane
Released 1963
Recorded November 5, 1961
Village Vanguard, New York City
September 18, 1962 and April 29, 1963
Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs
Genre Jazz
Length 35:51
Label Impulse!
Producer Bob Thiele
John Coltrane chronology
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
Live at Birdland
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars [1]
Down Beat 4/5 stars [2]

Impressions is a 1963 album of both live and studio recordings by jazz musician John Coltrane. Tracks 1 and 3 were recorded live at the Village Vanguard in November 1961, while tracks 2 and 4 were recorded at Van Gelder Studio, respectively on September 18, 1962 and April 29, 1963. Track 5, "Dear Old Stockholm" did not appear on the original release, but appears on later reissues. The album was originally released in 1963 on the Impulse! label.

The studio tracks were performed by the classic Coltrane quartet, with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones and they are joined by Eric Dolphy and Reggie Workman on the tracks recorded live at the Village Vanguard. Dolphy contributes a long bass clarinet solo on "India", but lays out on all but the final chord of "Impressions". Workman is at hand only on "India", to join Garrison in approximating the droning sound of Indian classical music.

Throughout, Tyner's presence is unusually muted; he takes his only solo on the bonus track, "Dear Old Stockholm", is barely audible on the two Village Vanguard tracks, and lays out entirely on "Up 'Gainst the Wall". Also, drummer Roy Haynes—as he sometimes did for Coltrane's group during this era—replaces Elvin Jones on "After the Rain" and "Dear Old Stockholm" (which were each recorded at the same April 1963 studio session). Jones and Garrison are also uncharacteristically low-key. All told, and even more so than on his other albums, the focus on this LP is on Coltrane. The title track is notable for featuring nearly fifteen minutes of Coltrane's soloing.

The music reflects Coltrane's evolving emotional and musical range, where he explores jazz modality, the music of India, the blues, and a traditional Swedish folk song (this last track was not included on the original 1963 album, but appeared first on a 1970s previously-unissued LP compilation and is on the current—as of year 2000—CD release of Impressions as a bonus song). The eclecticism is to be expected; the album amounts ultimately to a compilation of three years of oddments.

Influence on popular music[edit]

According to Jim McGuinn, while touring in late 1965, the rock band the Byrds had only a single cassette recording to listen to on the tour bus, with Ravi Shankar on one side and Coltrane's Impressions and Africa/Brass on the other.

"We played that damn thing 50 or 100 times, through a Fender amplifier that was plugged into an alternator in the car." Jim McGuinn [3]

The result was the recording of the celebrated single Eight Miles High, acknowledged by the band as a direct homage to Coltrane, and to "India" on Impressions in particular.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "India" – 14:10
  2. "Up 'Gainst the Wall"  – 3:16
  3. "Impressions" – 14:57
  4. "After the Rain" – 4:11

Bonus track first released on the 1974 Lp, The Definitive Jazz Scene Volume 2, (Impulse AS-100) and on the 2000 Impressions CD reissue.

  1. "Dear Old Stockholm" – 10:38