The discovery of a lost John Coltrane album has sent a wave of shock, surprise, awe and jaw-dropping excitement through the jazz world. It was widely assumed that Coltrane’s record label, Impulse!, had discovered all of the saxophonist’s unheard recordings when they released a raft of posthumous LPs in the wake of his death in 1967. It appears, though, that a complete album – recorded just four years before his passing – slipped through the net, and it only exists thanks to Coltrane’s producer, Bob Thiele, who allowed the saxophonist to take home a ¼” reel-to-reel reference tape of the session, which was recorded on 6 March 1963, and which, on 29 June, will be released as Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album.
The world will finally be able to hear what John Coltrane and his classic quartet – pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones – recorded on 6 March 1963. The lost album comes from a time when Coltrane and his band were experiencing a particularly fertile creative period, exploring and pushing the boundaries of jazz with each new album. They had just finished a two-week engagement playing at New York’s Birdland venue when they went into Van Gelder Studio with Bob Thiele during the week beginning 4 March 1963. The first session, held on Wednesday, 6 March, yielded the seven pieces that make up Both Directions At Once, while, during a session held the following day, Coltrane returned to the studio to record with singer Johnny Hartman. That latter session was released as the Impulse! album John Coltrane And Johnny Hartman, but the previous day’s recording was, for unknown reasons, shelved.