Stories of Standards: "Impressions"

Jul 30, 2017

Tune in to First Take with Lando and Chavis - weekdays from 6-9 am MT - for Stories of Standards to hear our favorite versions of this song all week long!

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While John Coltrane recorded "Impressions" (1961) only once in the studio (June 1962), he was recorded playing it live a great many times, starting in 1961 at the Village Vanguard. This title tune for his second Impulse! Records release of 1963 used the same chord sequence as Miles Davis’ “So What”, itself also based on Morton Gould’s “Pavanne” (1940). The album is also credited with influencing The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High” (1966).

John Coltrane (1926-1967), the son of a man who played several musical instruments, initially learned E-flat horn and clarinet. In high school, having discovered Lester Young and Johnny Hodges, he switched to alto saxophone. During World War II he was a member of the U.S. Navy Band in Hawaii. After his discharge he started playing tenor saxophone and developed a passion for experimenting, which flourished with his association with Miles Davis. He developed his three-on-one chord approach and “sheets of sound” methodology at that time.

In 1960 Coltrane formed the quartet which initially included pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, and bassist Jimmy Garrison and was joined later by Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone, flute and bass clarinet) and Pharoah Sanders (tenor saxophone). After the quartet broke up, he formed a quintet which included his wife Alice on piano, Pharoah Sanders, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Rasheed Ali on drums.  Music and spirituality merged as he went through the 1960s, leading to increasingly original compositions. The St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church was founded in San Francisco in 1971 and still holds regular meditations on “A Love Supreme.”
 

John Coltrane