John Coltrane – Stellar Regions

Stellar Regions

John ColtraneStellar Regions Impulse! IMPD-169 (1995)

Stellar Regions was recorded on February 15, 1967. The recording masters were kept by Alice Coltrane for decades before release. What makes Stellar Regions an essential ‘Trane disc (it is phenomenal, perhaps the better of even A Love Supreme) is the dramatic changes evident in his music. His vibrato shifts from the wide style of John Gilmore and Albert Ayler to a quicker, gushy style resembling Ben Webster. He jumps from a rumbling low register to a smooth, clear higher one, like the vocals of Rev. Claude Jeter.  Of course, tempos of the songs are much slower than as heard on Interstellar Space, recorded slightly earlier. In a sense, it is clear on hearing these recordings that Coltrane was dying. But this is without sadness. Coltrane’s music is completely at peace. While in his music he perhaps sees in the distance some great horizon yet uncrossed, there is also a total acceptance of what is within his reach. Jimmy Garrison is at his peak on “Jimmy’s Mode” with a solo tender but hip, questioning but aware, fluid but crisp. His solo finds where a delicate swing fits into Coltrane’s vision. As an artist, Coltrane was still in motion. As his battle alternated from confidence to uncertainty he added new perspective. He used every defilement to see clearly, and from there collected his many views and assembled, regrouped for further toils. This is the start of a new life. It is complete rebirth. Such a thing seems possible here. Stellar Regions is like a musical accompaniment to Arthur Rimbaud’s Les Illuminations [The Illuminations]. It is a spiritual recognition of the vast possibility beyond that grasped in the present. Yes, Stellar Regions communicates about all that needed be said before Coltrane went silent upon his July 17, 1967 death. This album is, along with Interstellar Space, Music. By that I mean this is the culmination of everything music — and Coltrane — was and is. What a wonderful thing.