Vinyl Spotlight: John Coltrane, Coltrane Live at Birdland (Impulse 50) Original Mono Pressing

  • Original 1964 mono pressing
  • “ABC-Paramount” on labels
  • “VAN GELDER” in dead wax


  • John Coltrane, tenor and soprano saxophone
  • McCoy Tyner, piano
  • Jimmy Garrison, bass
  • Elvin Jones, drums

All but “Alabama”, “Your Lady” recorded October 8, 1963 at Birdland, New York, New York
“Alabama”, “Your Lady” recorded November 18, 1963 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Originally released April 1964

Generally speaking, I don’t know the Impulse catalog very well, and accordingly I have a harder time keeping track of the ‘first-first pressing’ melee associated with the label. Thus I’m not really sure if this is a ‘first-first pressing’ or just a ‘first pressing’, but it has the Van Gelder stamp of approval and, more importantly, it plays through without the hideous artifacts of groove wear so I’m a happy camper. This copy had a lot of light scuffs when I first looked at it, which is probably what kept the price down, but by the time I got it home and gave it a listen I was happy to find that this was a rare case of a record ‘playing better than it looked’. I am so inspired by the intensity with which John Coltrane played the soprano saxophone during this time period, and “Afro Blue” is a fine example of that passion and vigor.