John Coltrane Quartet "Ballads" (Impulse!, US, 1963) NM/VG++ First Press !

"Coltrane's exceptional lyricism and beautiful tone are best represented on the modest collection entitled Ballads from 1963. Impulse! was encouraging their acts to branch out, and in the case of Coltrane the company was desperately searching for more product w/ some commercial potential like My Favorite Things had for Atlantic Records. In a short period of time the label had produced this album, along with duet albums with Ellington and Johnny Hartman, but this remains the most impressive and to my ears, the most vital of the experiments to Coltrane's collection. His overwhelming mastery of technique is evident throughout, but it never overcomes the simplicity that is inherit in the music. Moreover, Tyner, Garrison and Jones keep him close to the ground and do not expand on vamps endlessly like they soon would. Of course, there is less of the adventurous spirit that you would find on that hugely influential recording - still the record is brief and to the point, and seems to be an inspired moment of relative calm in turbulent times."

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