Review Summary: Coltrane at his coolest
It’s a shame that an album like “Lush Life” gets lost in the shuffle between Coltrane’s more highly praised material such as “Blue Train”, “Giant Steps”, and “A Love Supreme.” Comprised of five tracks recorded in the late 1950's “Lush Life” is known as Coltrane’s second solo album. Although not as groundbreaking or bizarre as his later releases, “Lush Life” is still a worthwhile listen featuring Coltrane at his most relaxed and mellow.
A huge aspect that puts “Lush Life” over many Coltrane releases is that the sound is so simple yet classy. “Like Someone in Love” is such a modest yet brilliant arrangement. It’s essentially a five minute piece of Coltrane’s slick, elegant, playing over a couple of basslines and snare hits here and there. What Coltrane lacks in innovation he makes up for it with his simplicity and flow. “I Love You” picks up the pace, showcasing a more vibrant and upbeat style as opposed to the graceful sound that most of the disc contains. Earl May’s walking bassline in “Trane’s Slo Blues” perfectly accompanies Coltrane’s laid-back style creating some of Coltrane’s most accessible music to date.
Although every composition is great in its own respect, the fourteen minute title track just overshadows the rest of the material on here. Throughout the course of the song the tempo remains very slow, Coltrane’s bluesy, melancholy style is almost mesmerizing. Red Garland’s block-chordal piano playing may be simple and overused, but it adds a lot to the chilled out style of the music. Coltrane finishes off the song with one last tenor saxophone solo, which is the highlight of the album for myself.
I realize that there are no abrupt time signatures, blistering, solo’s, or crazy interplay yet I still love the smooth style that “Lush Life” contains. “Lush Life” is a great place to start if you’re unfamiliar with Coltrane since it features such a matured and easy-going sound. With such a straightforward approach it’s amazing how vibrant and impressive Coltrane’s playing really is; “Lush Life” certainly isn’t a very innovative set of songs yet I keep on coming back for more.