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Sunday, July 22, 2018

John Coltrane Quartet – Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album: Thoughts on a Beautiful Creation

 By Tom Burris

Who is buying the single-disc version of this album – and why? We all know the double-disc version is for us – the fanatics, the disciples, the total music nerds who can't do without a single note the great man played. You'll know when you play it that the first record is “an album” with all the baggage that this word carries. And it will be thought of this way by future generations of Coltrane listeners, in the same way we consider Trane's other posthumous LPs – including Interstellar Space – as completely cohesive statements that stand up next to works the man himself envisioned as unified collective works in the 1960s.

My first listening experience to the album was probably not too unusual. I expected to be enveloped in the magic of the classic quartet & I was. It also sounded like the transitional work it has already been lauded in the press as being, straddling the line between the quartet's sessions for Atlantic in the early '60s & the more adventurous material Coltrane would go on to create for the Impulse label. After Side A ended, I flipped the record over. The lights were dim and I didn't have my glasses on & couldn't read the label. I thought “I hope they had the good sense to put “Impressions” at the beginning of Side B” a mere second before that familiar theme began to blast out of the speakers. “Yes!” I shouted, forcing my ugly meat-fist in the dog's face for a bump of solidarity.

The single-disc version of Both Directions At Once is for the ages and the whole world. It brings me as much joy as seeing that new documentary on Mr. Rogers did. Once upon a time there were beautiful creations made by compassionate people who filled the world up with messages of love and inclusiveness. Also, a long time ago Miles Davis said “All of us jazz guys are gonna have to line up and kiss Duke's ass.” I think I'm ready to do that for Naima Coltrane's family for bringing this album into existence. Who's coming with me?