Arriving not long after Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, Blue World adds another unreleased archival item to John Coltrane’s weighty catalog. The tenor master assembled in the summer of 1964 with his classic quartet (pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Elvin Jones) to record soundtrack material for Gilles Groulx’s film Le chat dans le sac, only some of which was actually put to use. And the tapes were promptly shelved and forgotten. It’s a smattering of material that doesn’t quite rise to the level of Coltrane’s Impulse! output of the period, but to be fair, it wasn’t intended to. Yet interesting details abound.
Most notably, at Groulx’s request Coltrane revisited tunes from his time with Atlantic Records, including “Naima” from Giant Steps as well as “Like Sonny” and “Village Blues” from Coltrane Jazz. “Traneing In” dates back even further, to Coltrane’s Prestige era, but the tune receives an altogether different harmonic treatment with Tyner rather than Red Garland at the keyboard (Garrison’s unaccompanied bass intro might be the single best thing on the date).
That leaves “Blue World,” the sole original, but a borrowed one: The main melodic motif is something Coltrane used on his version of Harold Arlen’s “Out of This World” from the 1962 album Coltrane. Here they steer clear of Arlen’s melody and form and just stay on the vamp, losing themselves in a swing trance.