The complicated rhythm patterns and diverse sonic textures on Olé Coltrane are evidence that John Coltrane was once again charting his own course. His sheer ability as a maverick -- beyond his appreciable musical skills -- guides works such as this to new levels, ultimately advancing the entire art form.
Historically, it's worth noting that recording had already commenced two days prior to this session on Africa/Brass, Coltrane's debut for the burgeoning Impulse! label. The two sets complement each other, suggesting a shift in the larger scheme of Coltrane's musical motifs. The assembled musicians worked within a basic quartet setting, featuring Coltrane on soprano and tenor sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, and Elvin Jones on drums, with double-bass chores held down by Art Davis and Reggie Workman.
Added to that are significant contributions and interactions with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and Eric Dolphy on flute and alto sax (although Dolphy's contract with another record label prevented him from being properly credited on initial pressings of the album). The title track is striking in its resemblance to the Spanish influence heard on Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain.
This is taken a bit further as Coltrane's combo stretches out with inspired improvisations from Dolphy, Hubbard, Tyner, and Coltrane, respectively. "Olé" likewise sports some amazing double-bass interaction. The combination of a bowed upright bass played in tandem with the same instrument that is being plucked has a sinister permeation that undoubtedly excited Coltrane, who was perpetually searching for sounds outside the norm.
The haunting beauty of "Aisha" stands as one of the finest collaborative efforts between Tyner, the song's author, and Coltrane. The solos from Hubbard, Dolphy, and an uncredited Tyner gleam from within the context of a single facet in a multi-dimensional jewel.
[ reissue includes an extra track cut during the same sessions, "To Her Ladyship."]
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer
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