Donald Byrd once said, “After all these years of playing, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the most difficult things to do is play a melody straight and play it well, with good tone and feeling.” That is what John Coltrane does on this album, with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones. Up-tempo playing presents one set of difficulties; ballads present another. An unrecovered error is more conspicuous in a ballad than in a stream of high-speed notes.
Leon Johnson has spent his share of time in airports. Growing up in a veritable Civil Rights dynasty, the now Indianapolis-based multi-instrumentalist and composer traveled frequently as a child, [...]