This album is a bit of an anomaly in that it is one of the few albums where a guitarist plays with one of the great jazz horn players. It also has the one recording of Coltrane playing a duet with a chordal instrument, in "Why was I born?". All in all, the two legends make a good pair, especially with the mostly Miles Davis rhythm section of Tommy Flanagan, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb. Flanagan even writes two of the charts on the album: "Freight Trane", an uptempo piece written specifically for Coltrane’s improvisation style of creating "sheets of sound", and "Big Paul", a relaxed blues that was supposedly developed on the spot. Kenny Burrell gives us "Lyresto", which shows some Tadd Dameron-style playing, as well as providing beautiful unison lines between Burrell and Coltrane. "Why was I born?" is a powerful ballad that highlights Paul Chambers and Burrell as accompaniments, as well as Coltrane on the melody. Finally, "I Never Knew" is a relaxed-tempo piece that has good solos by Flanagan and Burrell.
The original recording has also been improved on dramatically in this remastered version, in that there are no more drop-outs or crackles. The levels are also more balanced, although Paul Chambers still gets the shaft sometimes, so you may want to turn up your own levels to hear the bass solos clearly.
If you want to hear Coltrane tear up the changes on a fast tempo chart, this probably isn’t the album. In fact, Flanagan is probably the most dominating sound out of the group, and it is some of his better solo work, especially on "Big Paul". Burrell is as good as he’s always been, but you won’t find anything innovative here. This album is a classic because of the sound Coltrane and Burrell achieve on their unison lines as well as in their unique duet. That combined with the phenomenal performances by the rhythm section members makes it an album worth a listen.