In the summer of 1961, John Coltrane headlined at the celebrated music venue, the Village Gate. With a line-up of musicians that included McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman, Elvin Jones, and the fiery playing of Eric Dolphy, Evenings at the Village Gate captures the creative and transformative spirit that sprang from the pairing of Coltrane and Dolphy, and the evolving short-lived quintet.
Evenings At The Village Gate: John Coltrane With Eric Dolphy will be released globally July 14 on Impulse! Records/UMe. The first track from the fabled performances, “Impressions,” will be available from June 1 when you can pre-order the album and a special edition orange vinyl variant here.
Recently discovered at the New York Public Library, the recordings on this album—recorded by engineer Rich Alderson as part of a test of the club's new sound system—were seemingly lost, then found, and then disappeared again into the vast sound archives of the New York Public Library. The tapes’ circuitous route over several decades seemingly mirrors Coltrane's ongoing musical journey in August of 1961.
Recorded during Coltrane’s month-long Village Gate residency with his quintet (often with a revolving cast of musicians), the album consists of ninety minutes of never-before-heard music. It offers a glimpse into a powerful musical partnership that ended much too soon – Dolphy sadly passed away three years later and this recording is the only live recording of their legendary Village Gate performances. In addition to some well-known Coltrane material (“My Favorite Things,” “Impressions,” and “Greensleeves”), there is a breathtaking feature for Dolphy’s bass clarinet on “When Lights Are Low,” and the only known non-studio recording of Coltrane’s composition “Africa,” that includes bassist Art Davis.
Evenings at the Village Gate showcases the poignant, brief relationship between John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy. Coltrane first met Dolphy in Los Angeles and, when Dolphy moved to New York in 1959, they renewed their friendship. They recognized many of the same analytic and driving qualities in each other. Both came of age at the height of bebop, both were deeply interested in harmony and emotive expression and both employed vocal-like effects and a wide emotional range in their playing. The combination of their signature sounds—Dolphy's distinctively bright, sharply-stated voice set against Coltrane's darker, slurred phrasing—is a unique and evocative feature of their historic run at the Village Gate.
Accompanying the release are essays from two participants from those evenings at the Village Gate, bassist Reggie Workman and recording engineer Rich Alderson. Additionally, historian Ashley Kahn and jazz luminaries Branford Marsalis and Lakecia Benjamin offer valuable and insightful essays on the recordings.