With this session, recorded in the summer of 1957, John Coltrane came out from behind the harmonic safety net of a three-horn frontline to focus on his own imposing gifts as an improviser. As the only horn on Traneing In, the young tenor giant revels in the spotlight, demonstrating some of the hard-won lessons from his long apprenticeship with Thelonious Monk’s group that very summer at New York’s Five Spot club.
Red Garland basks in the cruise-control cool of the Art Taylor/Paul Chambers rhythm team on the title tune, and his jaunty opening chords serve to italicize this blues’ deep, deep groove. When Coltrane enters, the rhythm section ups the ante, from Basie-esque tippling to a driving testimonial. Coltrane’s dense harmonic variations unwind in nervous, compulsive layers of sound. Yet for all his complexity, a fervent preacher’s cry remains at the heart of his every utterance. After a stunning Chambers solo, Garland returns with intricate Bud Powell-like variations and stately, driving block chords which incite Coltrane to further melodic delirium.
Typical of his other Prestige dates, Coltrane carefully contrasts edgy moments of tension with interludes of gentle restraint. Chambers’ sultry opening chords to “Slow Dance” give this ballad an oddly spectral cast, until Trane doubles up on the changes. “Bass Blues” finds the limber Chambers doubling the melody with Coltrane, as Garland and Taylor intersperse witty little asides, while “You Leave Me Breathless” is Coltrane at his most romantic, soaring on angel wings into an expressive upper register. Finally, Coltrane and Chambers roar ahead like…well, like a runaway train, on “Soft Lights And Sweet Music,” as Taylor and Garland hold on for dear life.
Personnel: John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); Red Garland (piano); Paul Chambers (bass guitar); Art Taylor (drums).
01. Traneing In
02. Slow Dance
03. Bass Blues
04. You Leave Me Breathless
05. Soft Lights And Sweet Music