John Coltrane – Expression


John Coltrane’s work with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, his roots in Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon, and his mastery of traditional harmony granted him a musical license that other experimentalists such as Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman never enjoyed. They were always viewed as musical outsiders, whereas Coltrane’s pedigree was beyond reproach. Which is why John Coltrane’s death on July 17, 1967, a few months shy of his 41st birthday, was such a devastating shock to the jazz community. Coltrane had become a creative lightning rod for the new generation, and his music was synonymous with the liberating energy of the ’60s. Upon his passing, a creative and spiritual void manifested itself, to be filled by cutting edge rockers such as Jimi Hendrix and Cream, and a new generation of electric jazzmen–spearheaded by many of his devotees and his old mentor, Miles Davis.

Coltrane’s swan song, Expression is comprised of two sessions from the winter of 1967. “Ogunde” begins as an ecstatic ballad, with Trane’s cantorish testimonies rising to a fever pitch over wife Alice’s droning chords and Rashid Ali’s feathery brush work. “Offering” begins with keening lyric ideas and rolling rhythms (reminiscent of “A Love Supreme”), alternating with moments of rhythmic abstraction–leading to some electrifying free-form variations with drummer Ali, culminating in a sweeping romantic gesture of uncommon serenity and acceptance.

“Expression” extends on the mellifluous finale of “Offering.” Trane’s stirring prelude sets up Alice Coltrane’s roiling piano solo, until the tenor returns with extravagant, billowing phrases. In closing, the previously unreleased “Number One” offers a clear snapshot of the quintet’s special brand of group improvisation: As the rhythm section feeds their leader a churning stream of sounds and colors, Coltrane works fervently to develop ideas that transcend his beloved chord changes. In the end, there is a note of frustration to this final performance. John Coltrane had run out of time, with much left to accomplish. Listeners should return to “Offering,” and wonder at just how much jubilation John Coltrane left behind.


01. Ogunde
02. To Be
03. Offering
04. Expression
05. Number One

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3 Responses to “John Coltrane – Expression”

  1. broshing says:

    Ouah! This is really christmas! You treat us well :) Thanks for your effort and the musical gem you so often bring to us!

  2. BHM says:

    Another classic…much thanks!

  3. Marvellous and delerict music.
    So many thanks for posting these jewels; for share joy and wisdom in music.

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