[Rudy Van Gelder Remasters]
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2007, Volume 14, #10
Written by John Metzger
Thu October 18, 2007, 06:40 AM CDT
Considering that it was recorded near the end of his tenure with the label, itís not surprising that Stardust became one of the better solo outings that John Coltrane made for Prestige. Between 1957, when he created Traneing In, and 1958, when he laid down the material that became Stardust, Coltraneís artistic growth was immense, particularly as a band leader. It undoubtedly helped that he and his assembled entourage ó which, once again, included pianist Red Garland and bass player Paul Chambers ó were intimately familiar with the four songs that were featured on the latter set: Time after Time, Love Thy Neighbor, Then Iíll Be Tired of You, and the Hoagy Carmichael-penned title track. Nevertheless, there was a level of confidence as well as a more palpable chemistry among the musicians that also was present and on-display throughout the endeavor.
Stardust was recorded over the course of two sessions in 1958, but because it was released out of sequence, it immediately sounded like an anomaly. By 1963, Coltrane no longer was viewed simply as a sideman; he had established himself firmly, though controversially, as an artist, composer, band leader, and arranger in his own right. It was jarring, then, to hear him within the framework of his embryonic quest to lead his own outfit. After all, by the time that Stardust was issued, Giant Steps, My Favorite Things, and Africa/Brass had come into being, and the birth of A Love Supreme, his magnum opus, was only a year away. While Stardust is most certainly a lesser effort than anything he made for Atlantic or Impulse!, it provides a rather intriguing glimpse into his development.
Where Traneing Inís components were decidedly compartmentalized, Stardust boasts an increased level of give-and-take among the musicians. Considering its history, the rhythm section of Garland, Chambers, Arthur Taylor, and Jimmy Cobb ó the latter two performers alternated on drums ó not surprisingly moved in a lock-step fashion. This time, however, the ensemble better supported and framed Coltraneís fanciful flights, shading them with nuances that accented his shifting moods. Accustomed to sparring with Miles Davis, Coltrane used his horn players Wilbur Harden and Freddie Hubbard as sounding boards for his ideas. For the title track, Harden donned a fluegelhorn, though he made it sound like a dusky tenor. Likewise, the spry playfulness of Love Thy Neighbor as well as the pensive yearning of Then Iíll Be Tired of You were filled with expressive solos that maximized Coltraneís skills as a performer while minimizing his deficiencies as a band leader. Although the material on Stardust isnít inventive, adventurous, or complex, there is a striking beauty that emanates from its core, and everything that Coltrane learned about himself during these sessions soon would pay huge dividends within his work. Ĺ
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Other Rudy Van Gelder Remasters Releases
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
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