John Coltrane
My Favorite Things (Deluxe Edition)
(Rhino 75204)

"My Favorite Things" opens the album with Coltrane on soprano sax, and is one of the most perfect jazz performances on record. (Unfortunately, a number of my own perfect jazz performances have gone unrecorded, as they have taken place within my mind.) It's one of the tunes that get people hooked on jazz (unlike Hooked On Jazz). I feel silly even discussing it too much because it would be difficult to accurately express the greatness of the performance without revealing myself to be a pedant. Instead I will reveal myself to be a dilettante.

The slow-brewing and explosive intensity of the title track leads into a somewhat tamer "Everytime We Say Goodbye" with Coltrane on tenor sax. Very beautiful, even if it is the least remembered cut on the album. The chords twist into beautiful places just when you settle back into the familiarity of the melody. "Summertime" (tenor again) is less familiar, a very heated exploration of Gershwin's melody. While allowing for a detailed appreciation of Coltrane's bottomless reservoir of inventiveness, the tune provides as good a showcase for the rhythm section (Elvin Jones on drums and Steve Davis on bass, never tighter) and McCoy Tyner's warm yet cerebral piano. Oops, now I'm a dilettante and a pedant.

The fourth track is "But Not For Me," which fuses the straightforward yet surprising approach of "Everytime We Say Goodbye" with the cookin' of "Summertime." This might be the best example of Coltrane's ability to find incredible reserves of rich musical information hidden in the melody. Extraordinary, inspiring playing. This album is Coltrane for people who are scared of Coltrane, approaching the wild roaming of his Impulse! albums while decidedly remaining within the lines.

The Rhino "Deluxe" reissue adds two bonus tracks, "Part 1" and "Part Two" of the single edit for "My Favorite Things." These are wonderful to hear … it's a rare treat for our generation to experience what a Coltrane "single" would have sounded like on the radio. Good for mix tapes too, I must say.

The packaging, also, on the Rhino edition is immaculate, and is one of a series of new Atlantic remasters which includes Giant Steps and titles by Charles Mingus and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. If you are going to buy these albums, and they really are as authentically indispensable as I'm willing to say CDs are, these are the editions to buy.

In the back of my mind I am slightly bothered by Coltrane being on Rhino Records (which to me will always be the home of Barnes & Barnes, but I'm old fashioned that way), but they are doing such an impeccable job it is stupid to argue.

I can't wait until they give you a CD start-up kit when you buy a CD player … My Favorite Things, Kind of Blue, Schubert's Trout Quintet with Yo-Yo Ma, Southern Journey Volume 6 from the Alan Lomax Collection, and Spiceworld. But then people would probably start taking those for granted. Maybe they should give you those Naxos classical CDs and let you upgrade to better versions once you'd have your sea legs about the whole music deal.

Well, I suppose music appreciation will never be perfectly universal, but My Favorite Things approaches that. Timeless, classic, etc, etc. Everyone agrees. This one is impossible not to like, unless you have ears made of seaweed (in which case, you should get that taken care of).

P.S. Don't get it from a CD Club, you'll end up never listening to it and that would be a real shame.

Review by Ian Pampon