top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

'Evenings At The Village Gate: John Coltrane With Eric Dolphy' Available Globally Now

By Stevie Connor.

In the summer of 1961, John Coltrane headlined at the celebrated music venue, The Village Gate, with a lineup of musicians that included McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman, Elvin Jones, and the fiery playing of Eric Dolphy. Now after six decades, the live recording of the creative and transformative spirit that sprang from the pairing of Coltrane and Dolphy, and the evolving short-lived quintet, Evenings At The Village Gate: John Coltrane With Eric Dolphy (Impulse! Records/Ume) is available now worldwide in physical and digital formats.

Recently discovered at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the recordings of these fabled performances — recorded by engineer Rich Alderson as part of a test of the club's new sound system — were seemingly lost, then found, and then disappeared again into the vast sound archives of the Library for the Performing Arts. The tapes’ circuitous route over several decades seemingly mirrors Coltrane's ongoing musical journey in August of 1961.

Recorded during Coltrane’s month-long Village Gate residency with his quintet (often with a revolving cast of musicians), the album consists of eighty minutes of never-before-heard music. It offers a glimpse into a powerful musical partnership that ended much too soon – Dolphy sadly passed away three years later and this recording is the only live recording of their legendary Village Gate performances. In addition to some well-known Coltrane material (“My Favourite Things,” “Impressions,” and “Greensleeves”), there is a breathtaking feature for Dolphy’s bass clarinet on “When Lights Are Low,” and the only known non-studio recording of Coltrane’s composition “Africa,” that includes bassist Art Davis.

Evenings at the Village Gate showcases the poignant, brief relationship between John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy. Coltrane first met Dolphy in Los Angeles and, when Dolphy moved to New York in 1959, they renewed their friendship. They recognized many of the same analytic and driving qualities in each other. Both came of age at the height of bebop, both were deeply interested in harmony and emotive expression and both employed vocal-like effects and a wide emotional range in their playing. The combination of their signature sounds — Dolphy's distinctively bright, sharply-stated voice set against Coltrane's darker, slurred phrasing—is a unique and evocative feature of their historic run at the Village Gate.

Accompanying the release are essays from two participants from those evenings at the Village Gate, bassist Reggie Workman and recording engineer Rich Alderson. Additionally, historian Ashley Kahn and jazz luminaries Branford Marsalis and Lakecia Benjamin offer valuable and insightful essays on the recordings.

Evenings At The Village Gate: John Coltrane With Eric Dolphy Tracklist: 1) My Favorite Things (15:45) 2) When Lights Are Low (15:10) 3) Impressions (10:00) 4) Greensleeves (16:15)

5) Africa (22:41)


bottom of page