On March 6, 1963, after a long day of recording, John Coltrane packed away his saxophones. Nearby, Jimmy Garrison put away his bass, Elvin Jones left his drum set, and McCoy Tyner closed the piano. The quartet had spent hours at Van Gelder Studios, a cathedral-like studio space run by legendary sound engineer Rudy Van Gelder. As they left, Van Gelder handed them a session tape — a seven-inch mono reel of everything that had gone down that day.
Fifty-five years later, the rest of us can finally hear it, too. On June 29, Impulse! will release Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, which is made up of takes from that day.
Two of the tracks weren’t even given titles: “Untitled Original 11383,” presumably numbered by Van Gelder, leads off the set. It’s hard to imagine this not being a hit, but Impulse!, or somebody (possibly label head Bob Thiele) managed not to pull it off the shelf, and the original tapes were eventually destroyed. The only reason we have this album today is that Coltrane kept his mono copy, and Coltrane’s wife eventually found it.
Both Directions at Once is out on 6/29 from Verve, where most of Universal Music Group’s jazz titles live.