In 1959, after dozens of albums and a couple of important apprenticeships (with Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis, whose band he would soon leave) John Coltrane was ready to turn jazz on its head. He made the announcement with the first notes of the first song on his first Atlantic album (the first album featuring only his compositions) -- the title track, a song whose brain-spinning chord changes he assays with fleet-footed harmonic authority. Then, after "Cousin Mary," he reprises it with the even faster "Countdown." The album -- all played on tenor with able support from pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Paul Chamber and drummer Art Taylor, no song longer than seven minutes -- also gave the world "Mr. P.C." and the gorgeous "Naima." It sent musicians into the woodshed (it sent Sonny Rollins, Coltrane's friendly rival, into a two-year sabbatical) and it served notice: this was one small step for John Coltrane, one giant leap for jazzkind. (The CD includes five noteworthy alternate takes.)
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