Jason Boucher

John Coltrane with Eric Dolphy

Evenings at the Village Gate: John Coltrane with Eric Dolphy (Impulse Records)

By Jason Boucher

This brand-new release from John Coltrane with Eric Dolphy is fascinating. It was recorded on a single microphone in August 1961 by Richard Alderson and then sent to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Almost 63 years later, we finally hear what everyone in that room witnessed. Get ready to embark on a musical journey deep into the heart of Greenwich Village — it’s Coltrane and Dolphy at their prime. Explore the creative genius of these jazz supermen in a live album that might redefine the very essence of modern Jazz. Tracks include ‘My Favorite Things,’ ‘When the Lights Are Low,’ ‘Impressions,’ ‘Greensleeves,’ and the, until now, never performed ‘Africa.’


I’m sure the Village Gate jazz club’s atmosphere was buzzing with anticipation as two jazz legends prepared to unleash their greatness on the intimate crowd. Enter John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), renowned for his soul-stirring improv and creative approach to harmony. Arguably the best tenor sax player to have ever lived. Alongside him is Eric Dolphy, the alto saxophone, flute, and bass clarinet maestro. Dolphy is also known for his avant-garde style and fearless musical exploration. He’s one of my favorite musicians. See: Out to Lunch! On Blue Note Records.


From the moment of the first note, you’re transported to a different time when Jazz was still considered pop music and still growing in popularity, at least in the city… The interaction between Coltrane and Dolphy is mesmerizing as they feed off each other’s energy, engaging in a musical conversation that leaves the audience spellbound. Each track unleashes a kaleidoscope of emotions, taking us on an unpredictable yet enthralling journey through modern and abstract Jazz. It begins immediately with ‘My Favorite Things,’ but Coltrane lets Dolphy shine with the bass clarinet on ‘When Lights Are Low,’ a composition by Benny Carter.


As the live album continues, you can’t help but marvel at the chemistry between Coltrane, Dolphy, and the band, which became Coltrane’s group on most Impulse releases. Coltrane’s tenor saxophone style is unmistakable, and this is where his solos begin to reach new heights. With Dolphy, you also get a nice touch of the avant-garde — his bold and innovative style leaving an indelible mark. Together, the two jazz giants elevated modern Jazz, fearlessly experimenting and elevating the genre to new horizons as they went forward in their careers.


The quartet, with McCoy Tyner on piano, Reggie Workman on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums, are the heartbeat of the ensemble. Their foundation has always provided the perfect canvas for Coltrane’s music of the 1960s. This new release is a testament to the enduring legacy of jazz supermen. Coltrane and Dolphy’s fearless pursuit paved the way for future generations of jazz musicians and left an everlasting impact on the genre. The energy and passion flowing from every note remind us of the boundless possibilities of the always-evolving genre of music we know as Jazz.


“Live at the Village Gate” is a must-have addition for any jazz collector, especially if you’re a fan of Coltrane. Grab your copy on vinyl or CD, put on your headphones, and let the music take you on a journey.