John Coltrane: Ole

Ole Cover

Ole is an album that I’ve flicked past when browsing in record stores and overlooked on numerous occasions. I hadn’t taken the trouble to work out where it fitted into John Coltrane’s body of work and somehow the track listing, without any numbers that are commonly listed amongst his essential recordings conspired to relegate this to also-ran status in The Record Collector’s Buying Stakes.

Ole was recorded at the end of John Coltrane’s association with Atlantic Records, at the time when ABC had bought out his contract with the label. The visit to the recording studio was sandwiched between the two sessions of Africa/Brass that were to be released as his debut on the Impulse imprint. Was the album just a half-hearted effort designed to complete and wind up contractural obligations? The music contained within very rapidly demonstrates that Ole was much more than that.

The title track is a modal piece that listeners liken to the ambience that Miles Davis created on Sketches of Spain a year earlier. Everybody, with the exception of drummer Elvin Jones, who is like a solid granite foundation gets to take a solo and plays wonderfully. However, special mention must be made of the dual bass players who are remarkable in their interplay across the entire range of their instruments. Towards the end Coltrane returns, playing his soprano sax with great power and zest, almost at times as though he is trying to test it to the point of destruction.

Dahomey Dance is a lively strolling, striding sort of track, a real pleasure that takes us along with it at a steady pace.

Aisha is a delicate ballad, brought to you here courtesy of Jazz Hole on YouTube.

To play, touch or click on the arrow.

Freddie Hubbard’s solo is a particular delight and McCoy Tyner’s work at the piano is also very pleasing to these auld ears of mine too. Arguably, Coltrane’s sax could be played with a slightly lighter touch and it’s stridency leaves us with a piece that could have been one of the great late night, rainy afternoon Coltrane ballads, but which falls slightly short. Dolphy’s alto sax solo is well-crafted but I’ve personally yet to appreciate him fully.

The LP ends at this point but the CD has an extra track from the session, entitled To Her Ladyship. It sits perfectly alongside its companions and is a great bonus.

My own CD copy came my way from the bargain corner of my local second-hand record store and was a snip at four of those English pounds. Although it is not essential it is a really great listen which should not be ignored. I’m very pleased that I now own it.

It is Friday night (after a hard draining week at the grindstone in the mill). Another post duly posted. Another long train journey nearing its destination. The weekend starts here, Jazz Cats!

The band etc: John Coltrane (tenor and soprano saxophones); Eric Dolphy (flute and alto saxophone); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); McCoy Tyner (piano); Reggie Workman (bass); Art Davis (bass); Elvin Jones (drums). Recorded: 25 May 1961. A&R Studio, New York City. Produced: Neshui Ertegun. Recording Engineer: Phil Ramone. Sleeve Notes: Ralph J Gleason. Cover design: Jagel & Slutzky Graphics. Issued as Atlantic SD 1373 in 1962.

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