Harold Mabern: Mabern Plays Coltrane
Label: SMOKE SESSIONS RECORDS
MABERN PLAYS COLTRANE is a vibrant live recording of the late great Harold Mabern performing the music of John Coltrane with an all-star sextet featuring Eric Alexander, Vincent Herring, Steve Davis, John Webber and Joe Farnsworth. Harold held a special reverence for John Coltrane. "He was very influential in my life and also in my playing," he once said. "After being around him and seeing what a great person he was - man, I wish the whole world could have met John Coltrane." Mabern Plays Coltrane is the result of the final three nights of a three-week residency at Smoke's annual John Coltrane Festival, which began in 2017 and ended with these performances, played by Mabern and the band in January 2018. The resulting recordings also led to two earlier albums, The Iron Man, which shines a spotlight on Mabern the performer and performer and offers a glimpse into a typical evening performance, and Mabern Plays Mabern, which honors Mabern's gifts as a composer and follows his untimely death at age 83 on September 17, 2019. Mabern Plays Coltrane is the album originally planned for these live recording sessions. Mabern had always played a key role in the festival since its first edition in 2011. From the first week-long edition to the later three- and four-week editions, Mabern was the headliner during much of the annual event, demonstrating both his appreciation for Coltrane as an ancestor and mentor and his own important role at Smoke. "Playing the music of John Coltrane with Harold was like tapping into the well," Farnsworth says. "He was like a vortex, and everything flowed through him. It was intense. Considering how much Harold loved John Coltrane, it heightened the spirit of the music tenfold."