Interstellar Space

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Interstellar Space
An orange photo of the sun above the clouds with "JOHN COLTRANE" written in brown and "INTERSTELLAR SPACE" written in orange at the top.
Studio album by John Coltrane
Released 1974
Recorded February 22, 1967
Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, 2000 (CD Bonus Tracks)
Length 36:27 original LP
Label Impulse!
ASD-9277
Producer John Coltrane
John Coltrane chronology
Expression
(1967)
Interstellar Space
(1974)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars link
Robert Christgau A–[1]
Rolling Stone favorable link

Interstellar Space was one of the final studio albums recorded by the saxophonist John Coltrane before his death in 1967, originally-released posthumously by Impulse! Records on LP in 1974.

The compositions[edit]

Interstellar Space consists of an extended duet suite in four parts with the drummer Rashied Ali, and was recorded at the Van Gelder Studio on February 22, 1967, the week after the session that produced Stellar Regions. As a result, the melodies often overlap; "Venus" has the same melody as the title track of the previous LP, "Mars" quotes the melody of what became known as "Iris", and many note choices and runs are similar.

The structure of each track is fairly uniform: Coltrane plays some largely ceremonial wind-chime like bells, while Ali sets a shifting pattern on the drums; then the theme is stated by Coltrane on tenor saxophone. The album is an important example of highly improvised free jazz, which was Coltrane's principal interest in the latter part of his career. Coltrane's improvisations are thus extremely free here, stating tacit modes and harmonies briefly and modulating constantly, fitting extremely dense, twisting expressions into breath-length phrases. The folkish "Venus" is probably the most accessible number; "Saturn", the longest piece, does feature hints of swing by song's end. Its melody is rather similar to the canonical, almost cantor-like quality of the material on Stellar Regions.

The 2000 bonus track "Leo", also listed as such on Coltrane's Live in Japan box set, is presumably a variation on "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost" from the 1965 album Meditations (the theme for "Leo" was frequently played in conjunction with the two-tenor opening for "The Father, the Son and Holy Ghost" in concert, though it is always called "Leo" on Impulse! sessions). It is distinct, in title and structure, from the rest of the album. Firstly, it is named for a constellation rather than a planet; furthermore, the track opens not with an introduction by Ali, but rather, by an immediate statement of the theme by Coltrane. As well, the use of bells is different, appearing intermittently, and mostly towards the end. In this sense it is similar to the track "Saturn", which contains no bells at all.

Covers[edit]

In 1999, guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Gregg Bendian released their versions of "Mars", "Leo", "Venus", "Jupiter" and "Saturn" on the album Interstellar Space Revisited: The Music of John Coltrane.[citation needed] In 2009, noise music ensemble MPIMOD recorded an interpretation entitled "Satan Plays John Coltrane's "Interstellar Space"" on their album The Last Temptation of Ted Haggard. This version was performed on the recorder.[citation needed]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Mars" – 10:43
  2. "Venus" – 8:36
  3. "Jupiter" – 5:25
  4. "Saturn" – 11:43

CD bonus tracks (already available on The Mastery of John Coltrane, Vol. 3: Jupiter Variation):

  1. "Leo" – 10:56
  2. "Jupiter variation" – 6:43
The 2000 CD reissue also includes a brief rehearsal fragment as well as two false starts of "Jupiter Variation" and studio chatter between Coltrane and Ali. These outtakes are hidden in the pre-gap before "Mars".

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 23, 1974). "Consumer Guide (51)". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved 2012-09-28.