John Coltrane only recorded one album for Blue Note as a leader. 1958's Blue Train, featuring all original compositions plus one standard, would come to be overshadowed by the saxophone great's very next recording: the groundbreaking Giant Steps for Atlantic. But as a document of Coltrane in his hard bop period, Blue Train remains a top-notch record. Now, it's returning to vinyl, CD, and digital formats on September 16 in a variety of editions.
Blue Train: The Complete Masters joins Blue Note's Tone Poet series of deluxe audiophile vinyl reissues. This 2-LP set built around the stereo version of Blue Train adds seven alternate and incomplete takes on its second disc, four of which are previously unreleased and all of which are premiering on vinyl. In addition, the mono version of the original LP will also be issued as part of the Tone Poet series. Both versions have been produced by Joe Harley and remastered by Kevin Gray from the original analog tapes; they will be pressed at RTI. Ashley Kahn has written new liner notes for the booklet also featuring previously unpublished photos by Frances Wolff. The Tone Poet LPs are housed in deluxe gatefold tip-on jackets. The Complete Masters will also be issued on CD and digitally.
The album was recorded at a crucial point in Coltrane's career. He had been dismissed from the Miles Davis Quintet earlier in 1957 due to his heroin habit; once clean, he was picking up the pieces with a Five Spot Café residency alongside Thelonious Monk. Impressed, Davis had rehired Coltrane by year's end. Blue Train was recorded by producer Alfred Lion at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in Hackensack, New Jersey on September 15, 1957 while Trane was playing at the Five Spot. He was joined by pianist Kenny Drew and his Davis bandmates Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums. Lee Morgan on trumpet and Curtis Fuller on trombone added brass muscle to the session. Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer's "I'm Old Fashioned," introduced in the 1942 You Were Never Lovelier, rounded out the tunestack otherwise consisting entirely of Coltrane originals.
Blue Train has enjoyed many past expanded reissues. 1997's The Ultimate Blue Train added two alternate takes (the title track and "Lazy Bird") as well as CD-ROM content. Those takes were retained for the 2003 hybrid SACD. A 2015 Blu-ray Audio presentation offered four alternates including Takes 7 and 8 of "Blue Train" and Takes 1 and 2 of "Lazy Bird." (Take 1 premiered on this edition.) All of those are, of course, present on The Complete Masters.
Look for Blue Train: The Complete Masters from Blue Note/UMe on September 13. You'll find the track listing and pre-order links below.
John Coltrane, Blue Train: The Complete Masters (Blue Note 1577, 1958 - reissued 2022)
- Blue Train
- Moment's Notice
- I'm Old Fashioned
- Lazy Bird
- Blue Train (False Start)
- Blue Train (Take 7)
- Moment's Notice (Alternate Take 4)
- Lazy Bird (Take 1)
- Blue Train (Alternate Take 8)
- Moment's Notice (Alternate Take 5A - Incomplete)
- Lazy Bird (Take 2)