John Cage, John Coltrane, and Statements of Belief

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Impulse! @50: First Impulse - The Creed Taylor Collection [4 CD]

I recently received a lovely book-style box set called FIRST IMPULSE:  THE CREED TAYLOR COLLECTION 50TH ANNIVERSARY. The music contained within was from Impulse Records’ early releases from around 1960:  Trombonists J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding (very first relase), the better-known classic Oliver Nelson’s The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Ray Charles’ brilliant cd Genius+Soul=Jazz, the brilliant session by Gil Evans, who was Miles Davis’ favorite arranger, called Out of the Cool.  And, finally, Africa Brass by John Coltrane.  Impulse Records were the Rolls Royces of jazz records in the 1960s.  Fans would give them dedicated space in lp collections, bunching them all together and see how wide a space the gatefold lp’s would carve out.  I cherished my Impulse lp’s and still have many of them.  This new first 4 cd package is a classy tribute.  I hope Universal’s Hip-O-Select will issue more.

Product DetailsI listened to the Coltrane session and it blew me away just as much as when I first heard his music as a teenager in high school.  The music is still so fresh, so powerful, so soulful;  it is sufi music, music that searches and takes you on a spirit journey.  For music lovers, Coltrane will always be an avatar.images

And it reminded me of John Cage, who once told me about hearing Edgar Varèse’s music performed in the late 1920s at Los Angeles Philharmonic Hall downtown, conducted by Nicolas Slonimsky.  Cage called those early concerts “statements of belief”, music that changed his life.  Coltrane’s music was for me also a statement of belief, and hearing it changed the direction of my life as well.

Here is a 1965 video of Coltrane playing his luminous ballad “Naima”

And here is John Cage talking about sound and silence: