In August of 1961, the John Coltrane Quintet played an engagement at the legendary Village Gate in Greenwich Village, New York. Coltrane’s Classic Quartet was not as fully established as it would soon become and there was a meteoric fifth member of Coltrane’s group those nights— visionary multiinstrumentalist Eric Dolphy.
Ninety minutes of never-before-heard music from this group were recently discovered at the New York Public Library, offering a glimpse into a powerful musical partnership that ended much too soon.
In addition to some well-known Coltrane material (“My Favorite Things”, “Impressions”, “Greensleeves”), there is a breathtaking feature for Dolphy’s bass clarinet on “When Lights Are Low” and the only known non-studio recording of Coltrane’s composition “Africa”, from the Africa/Brass album.
This recording represents a very special moment in John Coltrane's journey—the summer of 1961— when his signature, ecstatic live sound, commonly associated his Classic Quartet of '62 to '65, was first maturing and when he was drawing inspiration from deep, African sources— and experimenting with the two-bass idea both in the studio (Olé) and on stage. This truly rare recording of "Africa" captures his expansive vision at the time.
This release is an amazing document of Trane’s band in transition, and is accompanied by no less than five outstanding essays from Reggie Workman, Lakecia Benjamin, Branford Marsalis, Rich Alderson, and Ashley Kahn.