Impulse Records, a tastemaker label from the early ‘60s to the late ‘70s, was dubbed “The House That Trane Built” due to its many historic John Coltrane recordings. Africa/Brass was Coltrane’s first Impulse release, in May 1961, and also his first date as a big-band leader. The saxophone titan started with his quartet of pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Reggie Workman, and drummer Elvin Jones, and he added other instruments including trumpet (played by Freddie Hubbard and Booker Little), euphonium (courtesy of Carl Bowman, Charles Greenlee, and Julian Priester), and piccolo (Garvin Bushell). The Coltrane-penned, Tyner/Eric Dolphy–arranged title track is the album’s centerpiece, with a masterful Jones solo inspired by African drumming. Tyner’s solos on “Greensleeves” offer a grand examination and then a re-examination of the English folk song, while Coltrane’s “Blues Minor” features fluid interactions with the expanded group.

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