Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Now’s the time! Review of John Coltrane Quartet, “Vigil” or “Modal excursion” in the light of the ongoing breathtaking resilient insistence of the Biafra freedom movement

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

(Review of John Coltrane Quartet, “Vigil” or “Modal excursion”, live performance, Comblain-La-Tour, Belgium, 1 August 1965 [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner, piano; Jimmy Garrison, bass; Elvin Jones, drums])

BASSIST Jimmy Garrison (below) appears to have just walked onto the bandstand, steadying and steadying that instrument of his as he plays with deftness and assiduousness as Coltrane, on tenor, begins the timely conversation with Elvin Jones on drums. Coltrane soars and soars in this continuously creative polytonal torrent of sound that is unmistakeably his signature. His commentary on the crucial challenges of his day is profoundly honest, insistent, multilayered and optimistic, a mood shared equally by the exhilarating inventiveness of Jones’s drumming. Note the resultant sweating and sheer exhaustion of the duo even before Coltrane’s brief break!

As McCoy Tyner, on piano, joins the conversation, he takes 20-30 seconds of dizzying phrasing to restate the cardinal theme of the excursion and then essays his own contribution along a serene plateau of disarming contemplation, punctuated by Garrison’s impeccable percussive engagement and Jones’s continuing testament.

COLTRANE finally returns for the quartet to studiously sum up the goal for the vigil by declaring firmly and unreservedly: “Now’s the time!”

Today, we are most honoured and privileged to have inherited the priceless legacy of these selfless geniuses.
(Here, John Coltrane Quartet plays “Vigil”, live, Comblain-La-Tour, Belgium, 1 August 1965)
 Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

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