Though this will strike some as heresy, this particular "best of" is not ‘Trane’s best. Before you start reaching for the poison pens, here me out. The Atlantic and Impulse recordings of John Coltrane, dare I say, changed the world of music, or the world, period - and his work with Miles Davis was nothing to sneer at, either. His mid/late 50s Prestige period, which this set covers, is, however, very choice, alternately heartily swinging & easygoing, play-the-head-and-solo-then-you-solo etc. hard boppery. During this time, John Coltrane possessed a MIGHTY fine tone, a very individual synthesis of Dexter Gordon (big, fluid, a bit breathy), Sonny Rollins (steely tone & creative improvisational approach) & Stan Getz (shiny, sheer, elegant) [it is not well-known but JC admired Getz’s playing].
While his 50s stuff didn’t knock the world off its axis in the manner of Interstellar Space, A Love Supreme, Meditations and My Favorite Things, it IS some of excellent mainstream jazz laid to wax in the 1950s, and many players today are still aspiring to come close to these sounds. So don't apply the Coltrane Legendhood of the 1960s to these 50s recordings -- 'Trane wasn't an Icon or a Shaman, but merely one of the brightest jazz STARS of the 50s, one who made the hard-bop epoch virtually his own.