Published Sep 23, 2014This music has floated around for some years as a badly presented bootleg but is now available for the first time on Impulse!/Resonance records. The recording on this release has its strange moments, as the rhythm section is barely audible when the horns are playing (classic one mic recording in an auditorium), but all in all it's a pretty solid representation. Coltrane is in fine form and is ably accompanied by Alice Coltrane on piano, Pharaoh Sanders on sax and flute, Rashied Ali on drums and local Philadelphian Sonny Johnson on bass. This is vintage late Coltrane, and though he was to pass on to other realms in the next year, this concert in his hometown of Philadelphia proved to be a watershed in many ways.
The gig itself was slightly anarchic as other musicians sat in (some uninvited but welcome) from Coltrane's Philly scene, so the final tally featured two more horn players and four percussionists (who are sadly lost in the mix). One of the more unusual aspects of this work is Coltrane vocalizing immediately after Ali's drum solo on "Leo" — it appears out of the blue almost as an introductory incantation to his tenor solo that followed! One wonders what led him to make this kind of statement, but it is definitely startling and uplifting at the same time.
While it would be easy to relegate this double CD/LP set as a collectors-only boutique item, Coltrane's mastery and the commitment to the music the other players display makes this music as worthwhile to the novice as anything released as a studio work. As a matter of fact, this is one of his better sounding live recordings. (Impulse!/Resonance)