John Coltrane - "Offering: Live At Temple University" 1966 Concert To Be Released In Full For First Time Ever!posted: April 7th, 2014 by Ken Scott
Resonance Records and UME are proud to present Offering: Live At Temple University, documenting a legendary concert by John Coltrane at Temple University in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 11, 1966, six weeks after his fortieth birthday and nine months before his untimely death.
Offering, available in both 2-CD and 2-LP vinyl sets on September 23, 2014, is the first officially sanctioned release of an undiscovered complete Coltrane performance since 2005. It captures Coltrane in exemplary form, navigating the language he had developed during the last phase of his musical path with passion and pellucid logic.
Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, son of John and Alice Coltrane, was instrumental in the assembling of this historical release, celebrating a performance thought to be evidence of his father’s frustration with the limitations of his instrument. To Ravi, the recording is instead proof of his enduring mastery. “For me, the Temple recording is an affirmation that no, he didn't exhaust the saxophone. The saxophone was just a tool—one over which he had a master's command. His voice was an extension of the saxophone, as the saxophone was an extension of his voice. When you hear that transition on ‘Leo,’ it’s totally seamless in energy, vibe and intention.”
Offering is, as noted by the set’s co-producer Ashley Kahn in the package’s accompanying liner notes, “a ninety-minute session of sustained intensity: experimental, frenzied at times, and deeply spiritual.” Operating at equivalent levels of invention and energy are three members of his working quintet of one year’s standing—his wife, Alice Coltrane, on piano; Pharoah Sanders on reeds and flute; and Rashied Ali on drums—that, earlier in 1966, made the luminous Live At The Village Vanguard Again and the majestic, posthumously issued Concert In Japan. Bassist Sonny Johnson substitutes for Jimmy Garrison, and two guest saxophone players and four percussionists rise to the occasion, contributing to the flow.
Until now, the proceedings from the 1966 concert were available only in fragmentary form and with inferior sound. On Offering, Resonance achieves the highest possible audio quality, using direct transfers of original master reels from a location recording by Temple’s WRTI-FM, remastered at 96kHz/24 bit, that were tracked down by Coltrane scholar Yasuhiro Fujioka. In addition, the album is presented in a deluxe format 2-CD digi-pak as well as a gatefold 2-LP edition. Both incorporate a look that is contiguous with the graphic identity of Impulse! Records, Coltrane’s exclusive label from 1961 until the end of his life.
Offering is emblematic of the efflorescent energies and radical ideas that Coltrane himself had much to do with bringing forth during the seven years after 1960, when he left the employ of Miles Davis to pursue his vision as a leader. There are phantasmagoric versions of Coltrane’s 1960 hits “Naima” and “My Favorite Things,” a transformational reworking of the 1964 ballad “Crescent,” a spirit-raising rendering of “Leo,” which he had recorded on several previous occasions during 1966, and the hymnal “Offering,” which he would record on a February 15, 1967 studio session that Impulse! would release during the ‘90s as Spiritual Offering.
The immense life-force that animates the proceedings on this November 1966 evening in north Philadelphia, ten blocks from the home that Coltrane had purchased 17 years before, belies the declining state of Coltrane’s health. It is still difficult to grasp—and to accept—that he was firmly in the grip of the liver cancer that would still his voice on July 17, 1967. As Kahn states, “Coltrane was pointing the way forward for generations of players to come, pushing the music to exhilarating, spiritual heights that caught most by surprise. In 1966, that wasn’t what jazz performances were about—not yet.”