In an incredible stroke of luck, previously unheard live recordings of jazz legends John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy have surfaced after more than six decades.
The extraordinary recordings, from Coltrane’s 1961 residency at New York’s Village Gate, were discovered in the depths of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and are set to be released for the first time next month.
The audio was initially recorded as a sound system test for the club. Impulse Records will unveil the compilation of these historical recordings titled “Evenings at the Village Gate” on July 14th.
This 80-minute album showcases iconic Coltrane compositions such as “My Favorite Things,” “Impressions,” and “Greensleeves,” as well as captivating renditions of “When Lights Are Low” and an extended version of “Africa” lasting nearly 23 minutes.
Coltrane’s musical prowess is complemented by the exceptional talents of pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Reggie Workman, drummer Elvin Jones, and saxophonist Eric Dolphy.
This treasure trove of recordings offers a precious glimpse into the brief but remarkable musical partnership between Coltrane and Dolphy.
Their collaboration spanned the years 1961 to 1963, resulting in groundbreaking albums like “Olé Coltrane,” “Africa/Brass,” “Live! at the Village Vanguard,” and “Impressions.” The Village Gate recordings are particularly special as they provide the only known non-studio recording of the group’s legendary performances at the venue.
Both Coltrane and Dolphy were at the forefront of pushing jazz into new, freer territories, with their music initially met with skepticism by some critics who labeled it as “anti-jazz.”
Bassist Reggie Workman describes the recordings as a testament to Coltrane’s exploratory spirit, giving room for solos and showcasing Dolphy’s unique voice.
Saxophonist Branford Marsalis notes that this music marks the beginning of a transformative period for Coltrane, laying the foundation for the intense and innovative works that would follow.
These recently unearthed Village Gate recordings add to the growing collection of lost Coltrane material that has been discovered in recent years.
The album “Both Directions at Once” in 2018 and “Blue World” in 2019 were met with great acclaim, offering previously unheard tracks and alternate versions of Coltrane’s classics.
As we eagerly anticipate the release of “Evenings at the Village Gate,” we celebrate the magic of Coltrane and Dolphy’s musical genius and the unending exploration that continues to shape jazz to this day.