COMPOSERS: John Coltrane
LABELS: Impulse Records
ALBUM TITLE: John Coltrane: Offering; live at Temple University
PERFORMER: John Coltrane (sax), Alice Coltrane (piano), Pharoah Sanders (flute)
There are probably more unofficial recordings of Coltrane in circulation than the official ones made in the
18 years of his recording career. Most add nothing to our understanding of his art and not all show him at his best. Although this concert was poorly attended and badly received, it’s a very worthwhile addition to the canon.
Coltrane was always generous to upcoming and unknown musicians, permitting them to sit in at gigs. Here his quintet is joined in the middle of ‘Crescent’ by two alto-saxists and four additional percussionists. And Coltrane sings briefly on two tunes, mimicking his sax playing!
Repertoire staples like ‘Naima’ and ‘My Favorite Things’ mix with newer material. This music is hardly comfortable listening, particularly not during Sanders’s searing, intimidatingly abrasive solos, but, as ever with Coltrane’s work, it reaches into areas of your heart and soul that few artists of any discipline can touch. Barry Witherden