Live in Japan (John Coltrane album)

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For other albums of this name, see Live in Japan (disambiguation).
Live in Japan
Live album by John Coltrane
Released 1973 (original double LP)
1991 4-CD set
Recorded July 11 & July 22, 1966
Genre Jazz
Length 247:01
Label Impulse!
Concert in Japan Cover
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars [1]

Live in Japan is a four-disc box set by American saxophonist John Coltrane and his last group, featuring the quintet of Coltrane, his wife/pianist Alice, saxophonist/bass clarinetist Pharoah Sanders, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Rashied Ali. The 4-CD set compiles all the music issued as three albums in the seventies by Impulse!; Concert In Japan (1973, US 2-LP, electronically processed for compatible quadrophonic/stereo), Coltrane In Japan (1974, Japan 3-LP (side six is blank), mono) and Second Night In Tokyo (1976, Japan 3-LP (side six contains an interview, mono). (Some of this material was also reissued as two 2-LP sets in 1980 by MCA under the titles Coltrane In Tokyo Vol. 1 and Coltrane In Tokyo Vol. 2) The first CD issues were by Impulse! Japan as two 2-CD sets: Live In Japan Vol. 1 (same as "Coltrane In Japan") and Live In Japan Vol. 2 (same as "Second Night In Tokyo"). The US 4-CD edition includes both of these volumes, with identical mastering from the original mono tapes. The side six interview from "Second Night In Tokyo" has never been reissued on any CD edition.

Recorded live on Coltrane's only Japanese tour in July 1966 at two Tokyo venues, Shinjuku Kosei Nenkin Hall and Sankei Hall, it is taken from mono radio broadcasts. It is notable for the presence of alto saxophone, played both by Coltrane and Sanders.

By this point in his career, Coltrane was firmly enmeshed into the avant-garde style of jazz. Sanders, who was an innovator of free jazz, influenced Coltrane's playing through his technical use of overblowing and fierce vibrations of the reed, and this record is remarkable for its use of multiphonics, overtones, and other extended musical techniques from both players.

Analysis[edit]

The songs on the 4-disc album are noted for their very lengthy running time (the shortest piece is 25 minutes long), all during which each player takes long, free solos, and sometimes the melody is not even played but only briefly alluded to.

At 38:49, the version of "Afro Blue" on this album is by far the longest Coltrane ever recorded. The solo form to this song is of the performer's choice: Either an F minor blues in 3/4 or an open vamp over F minor, the latter of which Coltrane always opted for. After playing the melody quite faithfully, he takes a 3-minute soprano sax solo, then turns over the spotlight to Sanders, who, for the next 12 minutes or so, uses his trademark screeching, screaming, and shrieking during his entire solo. Alice Coltrane plays a very avant-garde piano ad lib, and then Coltrane comes back in on soprano with a gargantuan 18-minute solo before ending the song.

"Peace on Earth" is more subdued, with both saxophonists playing alto and trading off each other toward the end.

Around this time, Coltrane also periodically gave Garrison extended bass solos to open some of the songs (this version of "My Favorite Things" begins with a 14-minute bass solo.) After a 12-minute bass intro, Coltrane's song "Crescent" is kicked off, with both saxophones taking ferocious solos during the almost hour-long version. The performance concludes with a short statement of the theme from "Leo", behind the MC's introduction of the band.

A second version of "Peace on Earth" on the third disc is quite like the first, with Sanders complementing the ensemble on auxiliary percussion when not playing. Alice Coltrane does not solo in this performance, however.

Coltrane's composition "Leo" first appeared on the posthumously released sax/drum duo album with Ali entitled Interstellar Space, and later, in a full ensemble version, on a number of posthumous archival albums ("Infinity", "Jupiter Variation" and a variant edition of "Cosmic Music"). It is perhaps the most dense performance on the album. It begins with Coltrane and Sanders playing shrill harmonics and high overblown notes before the rest of the ensemble comes in (This section is borrowed from the earlier piece "The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost", from the album "Meditations"). Ali takes an extended drum solo about 15 minutes in. Notably, during Sanders' first, very long solo, Coltrane briefly joins him for a duet (Coltrane is playing alto here - this is the "dialog on altos" wrongly identified by the sleevenote writer as occurring toward the end of the piece). Sanders likewise joins Coltrane for a short duet during the latter's solo (this time playing bass-clarinet - the instrument on which he briefly solos, following the drum solo).

After the aforementioned bass solo, the hour-long version of "My Favorite Things" includes a solo by Alice, and Coltrane and Sanders taking extended sax solos (Coltrane's is approximately 20 minutes). Unusually, Coltrane's initial solo/theme statement is played on the alto saxophone, rather than the usual soprano, which he switches to later in the performance.

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by John Coltrane except as indicated

Disc One[edit]

  1. Afro Blue (Mongo Santamaría) - 38:49 Previously released on Second Night In Tokyo
  2. Peace on Earth - 26:25 Previously released on Second Night In Tokyo

Disc Two[edit]

  1. Crescent - 54:33 Previously released on Second Night In Tokyo

Disc Three[edit]

  1. Peace on Earth - 25:05 Previously released on Concert in Japan and Coltrane In Japan
  2. Leo - 44:49 Previously released on Concert in Japan and Coltrane In Japan

Disc Four[edit]

  1. My Favorite Things (Richard Rodgers / Oscar Hammerstein II) - 57:19 Previously released on Coltrane In Japan
  • Recorded at Shinjuku Kosei Nenkin Hall on July 11, 1966 (discs 1 & 2) and Sankei Hall on July 22, 1966 (discs 3 & 4).

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]