ON MARCH 6, 1963, John Coltrane, along with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones – the line-up that would go on to make the peerless A Love Supreme - recorded an entire studio album at Van Gelder Studios, New Jersey.
At the end of the session, Coltrane left with a reference tape and brought it home. These tapes remained untouched for the next 54 years (the mastertapes however are lost ) until Impulse! approached the family about finally releasing it.
It is not an overstatement by the great Sonny Rollins, to say its rediscovery is "like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid", for this captures saxophonist Coltrane at a cross-roads of invention, still exploring the modal jazz he was working within during that period, but also containing early indications, sometimes overtly strong, of the 'free jazz' that was to come.
This indication is most strongly felt on 'Untitled Original 11386', which, conversely, is held together by a refrain that is at once melodic, catchy, and positively swings - it would not sound out of place on the mighty Blue Train (1957 ). Early in this piece, and unexpectedly, Coltrane's sax blows wild and unhinged, creating a daring array of sonics, that both contrasts with, yet does not undermine, the overall rhythm and structure. Special mention should also be made of 'Nature Boy' where Jones' flowing, buoyant, drum patterns, create an intoxicating template for Coltrane to work over and respond to.
While Both Directions At Once is not quite at the level of Blue Train and A Love Supreme (what is? ), it features the challenging and the accessible, and is a superb introduction to both sides of the man, as well as being an outstanding display of musicianship and musicality, one that rewards much replaying - a very welcome addition to Coltrane's distinguished discography.