My Favorite Things

John Coltrane’s (soprano/tenor sax) interpretation of this Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein composition — originally penned for the Sound Of Music — reveals the depth of understanding which ‘Trane possessed not only as a performer, but also as an arranger. His tremendous capacity for improvisation is only surpassed by his true appreciation and understanding of the song’s melodic structure. As the title track for the 1961 LP, “My Favourite Things” has easily become one of the most accessible ambassadors of Bop jazz to the otherwise straight musical world. It likewise retains an undeniable integrity as a bedrock of the entire sub genre. After briefly establishing the basic melody of the verse, Coltrane begins his sonic expedition with subtle, yet significant departures and improvised lines wedged flawlessly within the loosely rhythmic waltz. McCoy Tyner’s (piano) inflections playfully interact with ‘Trane as the reed smith yields to Tyner’s lead. The transition between the two players speaks volumes of their profound musical kinship. The pianist furthers the melody as well as the level of improvisation with his chiming chords and practically giddy syncopated runs and soundscapes. Yet Tyner never diminishes his uncanny perspective as an ensemble participant. The rhythm section of Steve Davis (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums) must rightfully be acknowledged for their paradigmatic support. This ultimately allows the soloists the vital sustenance required to be able to interact with such aptness. Once the lead is returned to ‘Trane, he unleashes flurry upon flurry of his trademark “sheets of sound” performance style. This sonic roller coaster is hypnotically enchanting as it weaves melody and unadulterated inspiration into a seamless burst of understated musical genius — which, if anything understates the exquisite multi-phonic magnitude he brings to the song.

“My Favourite Things” quickly became a jazz standard and ‘Trane kept the composition in his performance repertoire. This, coupled with the seemingly infinite volume of easily accessible live recordings available, will keep eager enthusiasts satiated. The unquestionably recommended seven-disc Live Trane: The European Tours (2001) box set contains six different versions of the song — all of which were documented during a 24 month period from November of ’61 to November of ’63 and features seminal contributions from Eric Dolphy (flute/bass clarinet/alto sax), Reggie Workman (bass), Jimmy Garrison (bass), as well as Jones and, of course ‘Trane.

– Lindsay Planer, AllMusic

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