If I were to construct my personal Mt. Rushmore of jazz, John Coltrane would be featured prominently alongside Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington. For my money, those four legends are the best of the best that the genre has ever produced. So you can probably imagine how excited I was when “So Many Things: The European Tour 1961” came across my desk a couple weeks ago.
This whopping four-CD set — totaling almost five hours — brings together for the very first time a series of live recordings The John Coltrane Quintet made during their 1961 tour of Europe. Coltrane anchors the performances on saxophone and is joined by pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Reggie Workman, drummer Elvin Jones and multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy. The quintet played more than 30 concerts in less than three weeks and mesmerized audiences in Paris, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Stockholm.
The set includes four five full performances of “My Favorite Things,” each one better than the last, along with multiple renditions of “Blue Train,” “Impressions,” “I Want to Talk About You” and “Naima.” “So Many Things” is a must for Coltrane fans … and anyone who loves jazz. (Jeffrey Sisk)