Among the list of jazz excursions beyond the 10-minute mark, there are some pieces of music that you wish would go on and on more than others. One of my favourites (perhaps pun intended) is the John Coltrane Quartet’s 1960 version of “My Favourite Things” a 13+ minute tune from the Sound of Music, and the title track to the Quartet’s album. This is not only because of Coltrane’s tantalizing soprano saxophone lines, but also McCoy Tyner’s minimalist and languid piano. And this is not to mention the rhythm section of the immortal Elvin Jones who explores complementary drum flourishes, while bassist Steve Davis lays down the bedrock.
image courtesy of vanveen1967
I think one of the reasons that this period was so fertile is not just the incredible base of talent that was behind it in terms of musicianship. I think it had to do with the fact that any song was subject to exploration in the jazz idiom at that time. Jazz during this period is characterized by almost limitless imagination in terms of what material translates well in jazz playing, no matter if it’s Gershwin, Rodgers & Hammerstein, or the blues. With Herbie Hancock’s recent release of his grammy-winning River: the Joni Letters, I hope that we see a resurgence of jazz as a more mainstream cultural force as it once was, pulling materials from a wide range of sources beyond the standards of the 30s through to the 50s.