John Coltrane

Those who've stopped looking at all the repackagings of John Coltrane's recorded works might want to slow down the next time they flip past Legacy, the new four-CD set from Verve. Two things make this overview stand out. First and most important, it is unique in drawing from Coltrane's entire career, including his important work as a sideman with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. This means that tracks originally appearing on labels like Prestige, Riverside, Blue Note, Atlantic, and Impulse are all collected in one place, easily making this the best-ever starting place for listeners who need one. The second thing is the programming. The project was produced by Coltrane's son Ravi, who decided to break up the material along thematic lines, with one disc focusing on 'Trane's approach to harmony and melody, another on his rhythmic conception in general, and a third on the spectacular fireworks created with master drummer Elvin Jones. The last CD consists of live recordings. Of course, these categories overlap, but the programming works because the choices are good. Obvious picks like "My Favorite Things" and "Naima" are here, but so are neglected classics like "'Your Lady" and "Crescent." A better gift for a young musician would be hard to imagine.

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