Back when I had, y’know, steady employment, I bought a lot of records. I made a particular mission to pick up every piece of John Coltrane vinyl I could afford. (I’m really, really regretting not buying a mint first pressing of Om when I had the chance.)
Now that I, y’know, don’t have steady employment, I don’t buy many records. But I still search out Coltrane gems when I have the extra scratch — and in September, Impluse! is releasing one.
On Sept. 23, John Coltrane’s birthday, Impulse! will release Offering, a long sought-after 1966 performance by Coltrane that took place in Philadelphia. It was one of Coltrane’s wildest but last performances; he’d be dead in less than a year. It features most of the lineup that comprised his live band in his later years: Alice Coltrane on piano, Pharoah Sanders on reeds and flute, and Rashied Ali on drums; Sonny Johnson filled in for regular bassist Jimmy Garrison.
Bootlegs of this concert have been circulating for years; to wit, Discogs currently has two for sale. But the bootleg doesn’t feature the entire show, and the sound quality is poor. Offering, uh, offers a remastered version of the entire 90-minute performance. It’ll be available as a double CD and double LP. The concert spans Coltrane’s entire oeuvre — extended interpretations of earlier material like “Naima,” from Giant Steps, and the title tracks from 1961’s My Favorite Things and (a personal favorite) 1964’s Crescent, and of later, freer jams like “Leo” and “Expression.”
Coltrane’s late ’60s concerts, when he was entrenched in the most difficult but most fascinating work of his brief but bright career — see: Concert in Japan, The Olatunde Concert — were often physically thundering affairs that nonetheless overflowed with emotional and spiritual energy. Coltrane, nearing the end of his life, played with the incendiary fury of a man in pain, but his energy — songs often stretched to near hour-long lengths — is nonetheless unflagging. If the Temple concert — I’ve never heard it — resembles anything on Concert in Japan or Olatunde, it’ll be a wild ride.
Anyway. I’ll be saving up for this one.