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In the Archives for 1997-99:

Jazz Casual on Video

Impulse Goes to Sea(Gram)

The Complete Quartet Studio Recordings

Coltrane Anthology Published

Bravo Airs Show on Church of Coltrane
Fuji's Second Edition Postponed
John Coltrane List
Frank Kofsky Dies
Porter's Coltrane Bio Released
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Rhino Releases Jazz Casual Broadcasts  In late April 1999 Rhino Records released three performances from the Ralph Gleason PBS series, Jazz Casual. Those first three (additional videos were released in June) included performances by Count Basie, Carmen McRae, and John Coltrane. The Coltrane performance represents the only US broadcast of the classic Quartet, in a strong set that includes the only full-length take of Alabama. The performance has been out on bootlegs for quite a while (check the discography for details), and most of the video has appeared in one or another of the Coltrane biographical videos (i.e. the 1985 VAI video The Coltrane Legacy. This edition of the 28-minute segment includes Gleason's introduction, and some comments from his son (Gleason died in Une 1975). Gleason was a jazz journalist (down beat) and syndicated jazz columnist who interviewed Coltrane several times (although Coltrane does not speak during this performance). Check Rhino's video site for more details.April 30, 1999

Impulse Floats Out to Sea(gram)  The Seagram's conglomerate bought Polygram Records late in 1998, in one of those corporate maneuvers that created a humongous music group, including possibly the world's largest jazz record company. Under the rubric Verve Music Group are nestled all sorts of familiar labels, including Verve, GRP and Impulse. The juggling and sorting-out will probably continue for months. The effects on Impulse, its new music releases and specifically on John Coltrane's legacy are hard to forecast. The consolidation of Verve and GRP led to a trimming of the artist roster by about 30 musicians, including a number who had recorded for Impulse. Apparently Impulse will go back to being a reissue label, sitting on its huge pile of essential music from the sixties. But the continued strong drawing power of some of that music (Coltrane especially) makes it unlikely that the label will disappear, taking the legacy with it. This makes (I think) the fourth hyphenation for Impulse, which started out under ABC-Paramount (i.e. ABC Impulse), migrated to MCA (MCA Impulse), and just finished a tour with GRP (GRP Impulse). I imagine the marriage makes the name something like VMG Impulse, which is better than PolySeagramImpulse or Sea Poly Gram Impulse (or whatever the conglomerate calls itself). February, 1999

Details on the Complete Quartet Studio Recordings Box Set  We got the attached information on the big Coltrane Quartet Studio recordings box set from Impulse a while back and were eventually allowed to release it in October 1998. The set itself was released in late November 1998. Jim Chiarelli reports that Impulse also released a promo CD with some of the recordings, including the previously unissued alternate of Crescent. Click here for a list of titles and details (the same information has been integrated into the online discography, by the way).November 1998

Anthology of Coltrane Interviews and Articles Published  Author and educator Carl Woideck's new Coltrane anthology, The John Coltrane Companion, subtitled Five Decades of Commentary, was recently released by the Schirmer Books division of Simon and Shuster MacMillan. Woideck, known for two detailed works on the life and music of Charlie Parker, has assembled a variety of material, some of it previously unavailable. Included in the anthology:

  • Articles about of Coltrane, including
    • Ira Gitler's 'Trane on the Track, from 1958
    • Zita Carno's The Style of Coltrane, a seminal late-fifties work from the short-lived journal The Jazz Review
    • John Coltrane: Man in the Middle, Martin William's controversial evaluation of Coltrane's place in the jazz pantheon, from 1967
    • Articles by Joe Goldberg, Nat Hentoff, Peter Watrous, Stanley Crouch and Francis Davis
  • Several Coltrane interviews, including
    • The questionnaire for Leonard Feather's Encycolopedia of Jazz
    • August Blume's 1958 interview, which also first appeared in The Jazz Review
    • A transcript of two interviews by Benoit Quersin, previously only available in edited form in a French translation
    • The joint interview with Dolphy, from 1962
    • Interviews by Valerie Wilmer and Frank Kofsky
  • Three articles on Coltrane's recordings, by Carl Woideck, Lewis Porter, and David Wild
  • Reprints of a number of contemporary performance and record reviews

The book is available from all the usual sources (it's especially encouraging that it actually showed up, out here in wide open Central Texas, relatively timely). I've only seen it in paperback, although it may well have been published in a hard-cover edition as well.      (posted 7/22/98)

Bravo Airs Show on Church of Coltrane...  According to posters on the John Coltrane line, the Bravo channel will be showing a 26 min. documentary, "The Church Of Saint Coltrane", on August 13, 29, and 20, 1998, focusing on Bishop Franzo Wayne King. Max Hoff, a list member and one of the participants, indicates that the filmmakers were unable to obtain the rights to use any of Coltrane's compositions in the film, and were thus precluded from using any footage of the church group playing from the many Coltrane works (which are central to the worship service) or using any recordings of Trane playing his own songs. So don't expect to learn a lot from the half-hour.       (posted 7/22/98)

Fuji's Second Edition Postponed...  A note from Yasuhiro Fujioka (via Lewis Porter) indicates that Fuji is no longer planning to release a second edition of his Coltrane discography (John Coltrane: A Discography and Musical Biography, Scarecrow Press Inc, Metuchen NJ, 1995) in the near future. According to Porter, Fuji has postponed the second edition indefinitely, in part due to the overwhelming amount of work involved. Porter notes that much updated information is included in the Chronology in his John Coltrane biography, although that information is interspersed as notes rather than as discographical entries. The hard-cover work is pricey (around $62 US) but essential, although already slightly out of date. You can reach Scarecrow Press at 800-462-6420.

John Coltrane List...  Coltrane aficionados now have their own Coltrane list. Jason Greshes (e-mail Jason) is the list owner, with the list itself hosted by the University of Houston. List members include Lewis Porter, Ed Rhodes and yours truly, among many others (a list, for those new to such things, is a free-form message line, sort of a text-based cocktail party with little groups of people engaged in animated conversations, which you can join as you please). To subscribe, send the usual subscription message (a message with no topic and a body that simply says "subscribe" followed by your name) to listserv@listserv.uh.edu,. The list is called coltrane-L, and the two address to remember are coltrane-L@listserv.uh.edu for posting messages, and listserv@listserv.uh.edu, the address to which all commands (subscriber, unsubscribe, check the archives, etc.) are to be sent.

Frank Kofsky Dies Author/historian Frank Kofsky, best known for his extensive interview with John Coltrane in August 1966, died on November 20, 1997 in California, of pancreatic cancer. He was 62. Kofsky was a professor of history at California State University, Sacramento, from 1969 until his death. He was the author of Harry S. Truman and the War Scare of 1948: A Successful Campaign to Deceive the Nation (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993; 1995), Lenny Bruce: The Comedian as Social Critic and Secular Moralist (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1973), and the work for which he is best known in jazz circles, Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music , (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970). He also authored a number of reviews, articles and other writings about jazz, including several sets of liner notes for Coltrane recordings and an interview with Bob Thiele in 1968. Although inactive for quite a while, he completed two books based on Black Nationalism shortly before his death, John Coltrane and the Jazz Revolution of the 1960's , Pathfinder Press, 1997, a revision to the first edition of Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music , and Black Music, White Business: Illuminating the History and Political Economy of Jazz (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1997), which he described as a companion work. The August 18, 1966, interview with Coltrane produced a wealth of information, despite the considerable tension between Kofsky's Marxist philosophy and Coltrane's more benign view of the world.

Porter Coltrane Bio Released.  Dr. Lewis Porter's extensive biography of John Coltrane was released on January 7, 1998. The 300+ page work features a detailed biography of Coltrane, using original first hand research and new interviews instead of on published (and erroneous) material, including genealogical research tracing the Coltranes back to the 1850s, and reproductions of such documents as birth and marriage certificates and census pages, and music in Coltrane's handwriting. The book includes considerable musical analysis, and a detailed chronology of Coltrane's performing career. updating and correcting Fujioka's work. The book was published by the University of Michigan Press (e-mail UM) but is available from a number of sources. It's been somewhat hard to come by but a second printing has been ordered and should make it more available by mid-April.

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