Interstellar Space

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This article is about the album by John Coltrane. For the term in astronomy, see interstellar medium.
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, 2000 (CD Bonus Tracks)
Recorded February 22, 1967
Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs
Length 36:27 original LP
Label Impulse!
Producer John Coltrane
John Coltrane chronology
Interstellar Space

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


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.

At the beginning of most of the songs, Coltrane plays 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[according to whom?] 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 original album featured four tracks: "Mars" (titled "C Major" in the ABC/Paramount session sheets), "Venus" (titled "Dream Chant" in the session sheets), "Jupiter," and "Saturn." Two further tracks from the session, "Leo" and "Jupiter Variation," later appeared on the compilation album Jupiter Variation in 1978. A 2000 CD reissue collected all of the tracks from the session, including false starts for "Jupiter Variation" in the CD's pregap.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau A–[2]
Rolling Stone favorable [1][dead link]

In Scott Yanow's review for AllMusic, he calls it "rousing if somewhat inaccessible music."[1]

Robert Christgau said that "these duets...sound like an annoyance until you concentrate on them," and pointed out "metaphorical overtones that have little to do with the musical ideas being explored."[2]


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.[3] 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".



  1. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Interstellar Space - John Coltrane". Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (December 23, 1974). "Consumer Guide (51)". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  3. ^ "Interstellar Space Revisited (The Music of John Coltrane)". Retrieved 2 March 2015.