Traneing In is a 1957 album released with John Coltrane as the leader, accompanied by the Red Garland Trio, comprised of pianist Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Art Taylor. This is the same year that Trane was working with Thelonious Monk, a major event in the development of his playing at that time. Here he is relaxed and blowing swinging blues with a rhythm section that certainly knows how to swing.
These guys were, basically, the first Miles Davis Quintet, minus Miles, and with Taylor on drums instead of Philly Joe Jones. So the parts all lock into place perfectly, with Garland providing his familiar block chord style and tasty solos.
“Traneing In,” the opening original track, is a blues-based number that simply lets this group do its thing in a relaxed manner. The results are easy and comfortable as an old pair of jeans. “Bass Blues” is another blues number, with a pre-hard bop arrangement featuring Coltrane and Chambers playing the melody line together before heading into a round of solo choruses. The set ends with a frantic version of Irving Berlin’s “Soft Lights and Sweet Music” where the soon-to-come kinetic Coltrane starts to assert itself. What’s really great here is hearing his bandmates keep up with, and even prod him forward.
Then there are two ballads on Traneing In where Coltrane shows he was becoming a master interpreter of ballads: “Slow Dance” and “You Leave Me Breathless.” On the former, Chambers’ bass provides the framework for Coltrane’s romantic tenor statement, and Garland brings the shimmering chords. The latter is simply gorgeous, with Trane’s debt to Stan Getz perhaps a bit in evidence. He uses the entire range of the tenor with ease and assurance, and his sound is distinctive and recognizable.
There is no way to go wrong with Coltrane’s Prestige recordings; they form the basis for everything the saxophonist would go on to do in his later groups and recordings. It’s instructive for new listeners to hear him playing in this kind of environment and to realize where he came from in developing his style. As always, this RVG remaster sounds terrific, with a warmth that recalls the old vinyl recordings without the attendant background noise.