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Om, by John Coltrane

“It’s very short, as I recall,” said the resident jazz expert in my life, about McCoy Tyner’s piano solo in this half-hour spiritual yearning — recorded in 1965 but not released until 1968, a year after the leader’s death. But I spun this reissue several times to find that Tyner not only goes on at some length, but furnishes the release after many intense minutes of striving. Coltrane wanted more horns at this point, and he got them, most notably acolyte Pharaoh Sanders.

Om’s courses include classic free spontaneous-counterpoint all-hands-on-deck honking, especially right after that Bhagavad Gita at the starting line — but for the through line, study Pharaoh first. His noise, certainly, but more to the point the changing shapes of Pharaoh’s noise. A recently released ESP-Disk set of early Pharaoh stresses how even in his youth, he was not only working the line between skronk and “conventional” lyricism, but trying to introduce the two over that line. This allows a deeper reading of his choices and contextualizes his slow shift to more flowing sounds, especially after Coltrane left him and everyone else.

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So Pharaoh pushes and steams and stains and sweats, and then Tyner (not fond of the “new thing,” one foot out the door already), comes in with the blessing. The enlightenment. The cool cloth to the sweaty brow. And everyone else save the rhythm drops out, allows it, because they know what they’ve got. And that there, to borrow a line from another (occasionally) Good Book, is wisdom.

  • Album: Om
  • Artist: John Coltrane
  • Label: Verve Select
  • Songs: (1) Om
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“It’s very short, as I recall,” said the resident jazz expert in my life, about McCoy Tyner’s piano solo in this half-hour spiritual yearning — recorded in 1965 but not released until 1968, a year after the leader’s death. But I spun this reissue several times to find that Tyner not only goes on at some length, but furnishes the release after many intense minutes of striving. Coltrane wanted more horns at this point, and he got them, most notably acolyte Pharaoh Sanders.

Om’s courses include classic free spontaneous-counterpoint all-hands-on-deck honking, especially right after that Bhagavad Gita at the starting line — but for the through line, study Pharaoh first. His noise, certainly, but more to the point the changing shapes of Pharaoh’s noise. A recently released ESP-Disk set of early Pharaoh stresses how even in his youth, he was not only working the line between skronk and “conventional” lyricism, but trying to introduce the two over that line. This allows a deeper reading of his choices and contextualizes his slow shift to more flowing sounds, especially after Coltrane left him and everyone else.

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So Pharaoh pushes and steams and stains and sweats, and then Tyner (not fond of the “new thing,” one foot out the door already), comes in with the blessing. The enlightenment. The cool cloth to the sweaty brow. And everyone else save the rhythm drops out, allows it, because they know what they’ve got. And that there, to borrow a line from another (occasionally) Good Book, is wisdom.

  • Album: Om
  • Artist: John Coltrane
  • Label: Verve Select
  • Songs: (1) Om
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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