John Coltrane’s Previously “Lost” Studio Session Gets Album Release

John Coltrane Quartet

After 55 years “lost,” an unreleased John Coltrane project makes its way into the music libraries of Jazz (and just plain Art) appreciators everywhere. Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album is seven tracks – all recorded in one session on the same day in March 1963 at Van Gelder Studios – and among them are two brand new originals. The previously unissued session, sonically styled like a polished shed, features Coltrane and his classic quartet(bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Elvis Jones and pianist McCoy Tyner) during some off-hours in the midst of a two-week residency at Birdland Jazz Club.

“Untitled Original (11383)” and “Untitled Original (11386),” the two brand new additions to Coltrane’s catalogue are glimpses into the pioneering musician’s expansively versatile range where the former – an earthy number with a Bluesy-Swing momentum – contrasts the latter’s declaring of Afro-Latin swoops and solid percussive pockets as fitting landing mats for John’s Soprano Sax summersaults. The eleven-minute “Slow Blues” finds him on Tenor Saxophone with a supporting groove from Jones and Garrison only, until Tyner joins in on keys around the six-minute mark. Ever the evolutionary and seeker as much as he was a musician, John’s spontaneity shakes the ground on this project’s piano-less, trio arrangement of “Impressions.”

“One Up, One Down,” which had only ever been released on a bootleg recording of the quartet’s Birdland residency, precedes the later recording of “One Down, One Up.” This, a revelation itself, attests to the relevant duality of the album’s title; both directions – forward and backward, standard technique and creative skill, past and future.

A deluxe version of The Lost Album– which includes additional takes of each track’s recordings – is also available. Each version suggests all ideas are unfinished and subject to methodical refining (like this album’s version of “Nature Boy” in comparison to the one recorded two years later for The John Coltrane Quartet Plays). If not for the regality of his still unparalleled melodic phrasing, the project is a must-listen in order to feel the presence of the Jazz rewirer’s transmutative ideas and matchless spirit.

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