These performances in Europe by sax-great John Coltrane came at a time when he was ending his affiliation with Miles Davis’ group and was immersed in a state of restless enthusiasm and artistic expansion. The chronological order of this footage includes the newly unearthed clips culled from a 1960 German TV spot with Davis’ rhythm section: drummer Jimmy Cobb, pianist Wynton Kelly and bassist Paul Chambers. Here, Trane opens with a brisk, medium-tempo spin on "On Green Dolphin Street," chock-full of forcefully persuasive yet endearingly melodic lines. As a side-note, the German camera crew toyed with EFX by injecting an oscilloscope type image that mimicked the energy emanating from Trane’s tenor saxophone. Dated by today’s standards, yet amusing to watch.
This DVD wondrously highlight’s the saxophonist’s artistic progression, leading to his formation of the now classic quartet, shown here, during the 1965 Belgium performance. Otherwise, saxophonist Stan Getz sits in with Trane for a medley of "Autumn Leaves/What’s New/Moonlight in Vermont," during the 1960 filming. And then Eric Dolphy adds an avant-edge via his angular flute lines with Trane during the 1961 live date in Germany. Nonetheless, Getz, Dolphy and pianist Oscar Peterson partake in some jamming, where distinct styles spawn gobs of excitement amid an interesting mosaic of contrasts.
Trane’s musical aura is gloriously captured during "Vigil," which is one of three works presented from the 1965 Belgium show. With this piece, he embarks upon a spiritual cleansing process of sorts via his free-form tenor sax lines. In addition, drummer Elvin Jones challenges and prods the band as he lets his sticks dance across his kit with raw energy and a no-looking-back impetus. Trane biographer Ashley Kahn provides the blow by blow of this period in Trane’s developlement to nicely complement photos of memorabilia and a foreword by producer Michael Cuscuna. (Essential.... )