Climax of the third night was the appearance of the John Coltrane Quartet - an appearance which left the packed audience a little nonplussed. For Contrane played just one piece - "A Love Supreme" and it went on for 47 minutes. There were a few boos mingled with the applause at the end.
That's it for this concert. (jeers) You can hear John Coltrane again tomorrow evening. (more jeers) Understand my friends that this music is not measured by the timepiece - more than anything John Coltrane's musical talent. He wanted to give us of his deepest self, so allow him to avoid repeating himself and to get some rest. (applause) Tomorrow night then, again - John Coltrane, Jimmy McGriff, and also the British band of Bruce Turner.
It was one of Coltrane’s, and Miles’, most notorious appearances. Perhaps fuelled by his uncharacteristic anger, Coltrane’s performance is almost contemptuous in its uncompromising ugliness. It’s also one of his most inspired performances. His performances would not be so “far-out” again until 1965.
“All of You” is bad enough with its passages entirely in multiphonics, its weird altissimo shrills, and its barking honks. But “Bye Bye Blackbird” takes the cake. About midway into Trane’s solo, the air begins to fill with the distinct sound of Gallic boos and hisses, and the occasional contemptuous whistle.
Coltrane’s style had evolved light years beyond what it had been even when he had recorded Kind of Blue the previous year. The Bye Bye Blackbird performance sometimes seems even to ignore bar lines, simply allowing Coltrane to work off his frustrations in repeated, angry motifs, screeches and honks.
When the crowd keeps booing, Coltrane seems to falter at first; then in a sonic “big finger” he begins playing even more fiercely, as if deliberately trying to annoy the audience. When his solo ends, it is hard to tell if those are genuine cheers among the shouts of rage, or whether the crowd is simply relieved it’s all over.
After the performance Frank Tenot, a French jazz journalist, rushed backstage to find Trane. “Don’t you go too far?” he asked in English. Trane smiled gently. “I don’t go far enough” he replied.
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